As a member of Carmel High School’s Class of 2012, I have spent the last few months reflecting on everything my classmates and I experienced over the last four years. We excelled in athletics, academics, and performing arts while raising thousands of dollars for different charities. We even planted some seeds for environmental awareness among the student body.
The Carmel Green Teen Micro-Grant Program helped to kick off a focus on sustainability at CHS during the 2009-2010 school year by providing grants to fund a variety of small projects. Members of the Green Lights Club distributed free CFL bulbs and informational brochures to their neighbors. They convinced 105 Carmel homes to switch their light bulbs. This prevented 52.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the life of the CFL bulbs.
The following year, the Environmental Club organized the placement of recycling bins in all three cafeterias — with funding from the Carmel Green Micro-Grant Program. They also held a community aluminum can drive to recycle packaging after everyone’s Thanksgiving feasts. A Sustainable Living Club was started last year, too.
For the most part, these clubs were created and run by students. Other folks were busy, too. As I researched this article, I discovered that CHS administrators and the Carmel Clay School Board had already taken great strides toward environmental sustainability. For example, the school district uses bio-diesel in their buses and has a no-idle policy at all schools. Each school has an adult Green Team and uses an Integrated Pest Management program on school properties. Virtually all computers and electronics are recycled. Seven Carmel schools, including the high school, received Energy Star Awards in 2010.
I was surprised at the extent of changes and programs that CHS and other Carmel schools had implemented to become more environmentally friendly. I had always considered myself engaged and aware of issues regarding environmental sustainability – but I was pretty clueless. However, most students at CHS are even less aware than I am. Many don’t even know the student environmental groups exist. Even after a year, many haven’t noticed the recycling bins in the cafeterias – they throw drink bottles in the trash. Even fewer know about the actions taken by adults and administrators throughout the school district.
In the future, I know that Carmel High School can achieve greatness in the arena of environmental sustainability as it has in academic and extracurricular activities. However, this will not happen unless the student body becomes aware and then committed. If the administration and student leaders water the seeds for environmental awareness among the student body, the students will undoubtedly rise to the challenge and set higher standards for sustainability at CHS.