The Environmental Sustainability Program has evolved into one of the pillars of a child’s experience at St. Patrick’s. While a commitment to outdoor education and responsible stewardship of our planet had always been a part of our mission, this program grew thanks to a community-wide effort by parents, faculty and staff, and students. In March 2019, Director of Sustainability Sam Mason and Director of Alumni and Parent Programs Chris Bolger formed the Environmental Action Team, which has consisted of parents and faculty and staff. This committee of environmentalists has met regularly to discuss ways to further our sustainability work through eco-certification, facilities improvements, and community-building events. At the close of the 2019-2020 school year, the Parents Association–under the leadership of then-President Katherine Lucas (Evan '20, Emma '29, Mason '29)–showed its commitment to this important work by establishing the role of Vice President for Service and Sustainability, a role in which first Emily Lawrence (Wyatt '25) and now Laura Schifter (Ellie '27, Issie '29, Thea Scriven '32) have served. Through the dedication of these committed environmentalists and more, the Environmental Action Team has tackled several different projects this year and are laying the groundwork for more exciting ones for the coming school year.
This April, for our first Earth Day Celebration, students in each grade level created projects, designed by both the Environmental Action Team and our Science Department, over several weeks during their science classes. Each developmentally appropriate project was designed to ask students, “What does a sustainable school, community, and future look like?” Students shared these with their classmates on Earth Day and we welcomed parents to join us and see these impressive displays at the Garden & Outdoor Learning Space the following day. In the words of Environmental Action Team member Rima Toukan (Mario '25, Sophia '23), “it has been wonderful to think together with other parents and with St. Patrick’s faculty and staff on how to make Earth Day meaningful and engaging for our children, and enjoyed seeing our planning take shape through our children’s minds, hearts, and hands.” At our Earth Day Celebration, we also held our first logowear resale, where over 180 items of clothing found new homes! This program offers families a way to cut down on waste and responsibly pass along gently used clothing, while also decking themselves out in vintage Wolfhound gear. Parents had the opportunity to drop off their items at a carpool kickoff in the winter, staffed by parents and Grade 5 students who braved the cold to collect bags of donations. Moving forward, you can continue to donate gently-used clothing at the Development Office for future resale events.
Since the construction of the Garden & Outdoor Learning Space, hundreds of members of our community have enjoyed experiencing this beautiful space. Every student at St. Patrick’s spends time learning, playing, and working at it during the school year. In the Nursery School, students recently made a delicious and sustainable breakfast, consisting of omelets–cooked on a solar-powered burner–made from eggs laid by our two hens, Summer and Clicky, and freshly harvested berries and greens. Our youngest students have helped to care for and tend to the chickens while learning about animal life cycles. In the Lower School, students have learned about deforestation, recycling, composting, river restoration, and designed their own windmill blades to learn about wind energy. Lower School students have also collaborated with the Environmental Action Team to promote sustainability efforts at St. Patrick’s by writing tips and tricks on sustainable practices at home for HoundsTruth. Students in the Middle School have focused on learning how to become advocates by creating posters and video content to help readers and viewers understand the effects of climate change.
Moving into the 2022-2023 school year, the Environmental Action Team is hard at work planning new projects at the garden and a robust calendar of events such as a community hike, informational cocktail party at the garden, and the second-annual Earth Day Celebration. For students, we are excited to launch our new QR code stations, which allow visitors to scan QR codes linking to video explainers, in both English and Spanish, of educational and joyful activities in both the garden and its surrounding green space. These videos have been filmed by members of the faculty and staff and will be displayed on museum signs installed with the support of our facilities department. On a board-level, the Board of Trustees recently established an ad hoc sustainability committee, which will help establish a systematic and sustained approach to sustainability, including efforts that cut across learning, community service, social justice and facilities management. The Board is partnering with GreenerU, an environmental consulting company, to establish benchmarks and metrics to track our progress moving forward. In the words of committee chair Gardiner Lapham (Jack ex. W'18, Phoebe '24, Thomas '24), “We are a stronger community when we all come together to advance the core values of our school.”
Pull out: The Environmental Action Team is always open to any parents who would like to join us and makes for a great way for new members of our community to get involved in an integral part of our program! Please reach out to Director of Sustainability Sam Mason at email@example.com and Director of Alumni and Parent Programs Chris Bolger at firstname.lastname@example.org.