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Green in Action Honorary Mention

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USD 241 Wallace County Schools

Sharon Springs, KS

Since its founding in 1886, everyone in Wallace County Schools has cherished the region’s beauty, nature. All residents have prospered by preserving resources. The legacy of environmentalism has continued through generations. This tradition lives in the district today.

Recycling is a priority. Since 2009 the school has placed containers throughout the building, sorting bins in the gym, and containers outside. Also, the district recently sent a trailer-full of computers and printers to be disassembled and recycled. For the past few years, the school has held recycling fundraisers. Together with the local businesses and the courthouse, boxes of cell phones, and printer and toner cartridges have been recycled. Thousands of pounds of waste have been converted into useful materials.

Wallace Image4Living in an agricultural area makes the school’s personnel sensitive to food needs. For example, years ago the school board voted to give leftovers to the youth center. After discussing America’s hunger and poverty facts, one teacher and her students visit the grocery store where they purchase and donate items to the food bank. Recently, on April 5th, 47 high school students and adults traveled to Goodland for Feed My Starving Children’s first event in Kansas. In two hours they and 100 others packed 32,184 meals for people in Haiti or El Salvador. Numerous students and staff members have volunteered in food banks across America where they saw a need and touched lives. For them, they envision seeds drilled, plants growing, grain harvested, bread made, and people’s hunger satisfied.

The textbooks and standards come to life as students learn animal and plant cycles and habitats. Students grow flowers and vegetables in milk cartons and other containers. School secretaries keep plants in the hallways, and a custodian grows plants for others. Elementary students learn responsibility as they care for fish. Second grade students follow the monarch butterfly migration. For over a decade, our district has an Outdoor Wildlife Learning Site where students observe plant growth and watch birds feed. All life is cherished.
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Lessons continue as students grow. Eighth grade students make USB chargers reusing Altoid tin cases. Freshmen create PowerPoints or videos describing how humans have changed the earth. Science students study meteorology and life cycles. Some English students electronically submit essays and assignments. Throughout the school students are encouraged to reuse plastic water bottles. We practice conservation.

This year school leaders chose environmentally-friendly construction projects. After two energy audits, an energy-efficient system replaced the outdated boiler. They installed motion-sensitive, cost-saving lights and energy-saving photocopiers. These products will conserve energy, save money, and teach life lessons.

Former Kansan Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote, “It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” Protecting our environment is not just one week’s lesson plans in Wallace County Schools. It is a way of life, a legacy continued. With it, the school has blossomed as children happily live environmentalism daily. After all, the earth does not belong to us; it belongs to future generations.