Middle School Climate Committee Enacts Change

What started out as a simple class assignment turned into so much more at Springville Middle School. During the fall of 2018, students learned about climate change in both Mr. Beiter’s social studies classes as well as Mrs. Hughey’s science classes. Then students wrote climate action plans, describing changes they would like to see to help combat some of the effects of climate change. After the assignment, students were able to take their learning and apply it to direct action.

Students who were interested were invited to join the Climate Action Committee, which is where they were able to affect real change. The question posed was “What can SGI do to reduce our carbon footprint?” The students got to work discussing the steps that could be recommended to make SGI a better place for our planet.

Students met with Laura Watson, Cafeteria Manager, to ask why so much Styrofoam was used in the cafeteria, as well as why there was so much plastic. After Watson did her own research into alternatives, major changes came to the cafeteria. Plastic silverware was replaced with metal silverware. Gone were the Styrofoam trays, replaced with reusable ones.

Students also met with David Seiflein, Director of Facilities to discuss recycling at SGI. Seiflein worked with MRC Recycling to bring a zero-sort recycling program to SGI. The middle school held a plastic shopping bag drive to attempt to bring awareness to the negatives of plastic bags that students brought their lunch to school in. When students brought in a number of plastic bags during the drive, they were given a purple, Springville-GI Griffins reusable shopping bag as a more climate friendly alternative.

Students with recycling bin

These changes have affected both Springville and attracted attention from the wider community. In October, Mr. Beiter, Mrs. Hughey, and Mrs. Roetzer, as well as students, Mrs. Watson, and Mr. Seiflein presented on their work at the Climate Change Conference presented by the Summer Institute for Human Rights and Genocide Studies at Erie 1 BOCES.

The work continues this school year. Mrs. Hughey has been teaching her students how to measure trees and calculate how much carbon is sequestered in each tree. They also looked at the impact that the construction has had on the trees on campus and measure the amount of carbon sequestration that was lost through trees being removed during construction. Students plan to meet with Mrs. Moritz to propose help in replanting trees that were lost in construction. Additionally, students in eighth grade science and social studies will be writing action plans this December, while the teachers look to form a new Climate Action Committee. All in all, environmental sustainability is on the minds of many at Springville Middle School.

Student measuring a tree