CELF Eco-footprint at Manhattan Country School, November 2010:

"Manhattan Country School students learn about their eco-footprint" MCS YouTube, November 2010

On October 7th, Manhattan Country School students filled up the Music Room ready for a day of environmental education. The Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation, founded by Katie Ginsberg, presented an all-day program for 5th through 8th graders to raise awareness of sustainability at MCS. Watch a video overview of the program at MCS.

With the help of a faculty committee, Susan Harris, after school director and Lower School music teacher, and Maiya Jackson, Upper School director, organized the day for MCS as part of the school's commitment to reducing its carbon footprint by 30% in the next five years.

The school assembly opened with the question: What is an ecological footprint? Students' hands quickly shot up in the air and there were many thoughtful answers. However, it was a colorful map depicting an ecological footprint that got one students’ vivid imagination going. "Now that I look at it, I see the shape of a foot!" exclaimed Max, a sixth grader.

MCS' eco-footprint is much smaller than other schools due to its recycling program, rooftop garden, 160-acre working farm, public transportation to and from school, and more. But there’s always room for improvement and students set about making that happen.

After dividing into mixed-grade groups, students traveled throughout the building, interacting with kitchen, maintenance, and office staff to learn how much natural gas, water, and paper we use, and how much waste we generate. MCS students were enthusiastic, probing thinkers, and at the end of the day came up with action plans for reducing the school's eco-footprint to submit to administrators. Among their ideas were:

• Turning waste into products to be sold at the annual MCS Farm Festival
• Building a bike rack to encourage exercise and 'green' transportation
• Offering more online homework to reduce printing on paper
• Buying recycled paper for MCS

Here's what school administrators had to say about the day's events:

"I enjoyed seeing Upper School students working together and engaging with a variety of MCS staff and parent volunteers to learn about where our food comes from, what happens to our trash, how students travel to and from school, and how we heat our building. Students used this information to formulate thoughtful, creative ideas for how we can reduce our
eco-footprint. We're discussing their suggestions as part of our Staff Workshop Day at the MCS Farm, and we're excited to work with the students to take the next steps toward their goals." - Maiya Jackson, Upper School Director

"Over the past decade, MCS has become increasingly committed to environmental stewardship. Using the MCS Farm as a model for sustainable living and learning, we have adapted some practices at our school. These include composting in the thriving rooftop garden (5-6s, 7-8s classes), school-wide recycling (8-9s class), and using farm produce and meat for lunches (la cocina). Additionally, classroom teachers have re-envisioned curricular pieces with sustainable principles in mind. We hope that the CELF program will be used as a springboard for continued reflection and development of our practices and curriculum going forward." – Michèle Solá, Director

Media Contact Information:

Katie Ginsberg
(914) 238-4743





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