Green teams make impact
Posted on 10/02/2020
Group of students holds bags of lettuce they grew

Audubon Green Team holding checkBlankner green team holds checkWestpointe green team with checks

From school gardens to recycling to food rescue projects, 14 schools participated in the district’s Green Schools Recognition Program. This record number of entries excited judges, especially seeing the immediate benefits of the student-led projects.

Audubon Park School earned First Place with a focus on the mind, body and spirit. Students designed, planted, grew and harvested produce and flowers in their school garden. Student advocates spread awareness about the importance of self care. The school received a $5,000 prize. Blankner School placed second, $3,000; and Westpointe Elementary, in their first year of participation, placed third, $1,000. 

One of the growing movements in this crop of applicants demonstrated the value of rescuing food. Rather than throwing away unopened food, various schools placed collection bins in convenient places for students to share their unwanted items. This was a win-win initiative. The bins of collected items kept unnecessary waste out of the landfills and fed another student’s craving for that item. At the end of the week, schools donated items to local food pantries. 

Cypress Creek High School’s Food Rescue Project connected the school. Not only did the bins reduce waste, but they also provided a place for the unwanted items, which beautified the campus, and provided food to two local non-profits. Plus, the project established a student Eco Club of 100 members; it led to a collaborative connection of the school’s Food and Nutrition Services manager working with students to modify meal options; and the Project Lead the Way biomedical classes and International Baccalaureate math classes utilized the food waste data collected.

Judge Choice Awards granted the winners $750. The five sustainability winners are:
• Energy Conservation, from Lightyear Technologies - Blankner School
• Water Conservation, from OUC, The Reliable One - Arbor Ridge School
• Waste Reduction, from City of Orlando - Blankner School
• Innovation, from Universal Orlando Resorts - Cypress Creek HS
• School Gardens, from 4Rivers/4Roots Foundation - Westpointe ES
• Campus Beautification, Keep Orlando Beautiful - Cypress Creek HS

Schools also earned incentive awards for their energy and water efficiency. Schools that operated at 11 percent more energy efficient than the district goal (13.1 KWh/sq. ft) include: Audubon Park School, Bay Lake ES, Blankner School, Dream Lake ES, Maxey ES, Meadow Woods ES, Sunridge ES, Tildenville ES, Wedgefield School, Westpointe ES and Zellwood ES. They each earned $500. For operating at 6-10 percent more efficient than the district goal, Cypress Creek HS earned $300. 

The schools that operated at 11 percent better than the district goal (21.35 Gal./sq. ft) in potable water efficiency include: Arbor Ridge School, Audubon Park School, Blankner School, Cypress Creek HS, Dream Lake ES, Maxey ES, Meadow Woods ES, Wedgefield School, Westpointe ES, Wyndham Lakes ES and Zellwood ES. They each earned $500. Bay Lake ES earned $300 for operating at 6-10 percent more efficient than the district goal. 

Whether they focused on pollinators’ role in the food cycle, recycling tips, energy and water conservation, or food and clothing waste reduction, students learned the value of sustainability and became ambassadors for their school community. 

Check out the awards presentation to see each school’s highlights.

If you’d like to learn more about the Green School Recognition Program, visit their webpage or contact Jennifer Fowler, Environmental Compliance & Sustainability Director.