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Posted: 04/17/13

A COOL GREEN. Above, Romeo High School senior Kirk Lightcap is working on a solar-powered "scooter cooler" that charges a battery as it's driven. This is one example of the projects the alternative energy curriculum is providing students at the Romeo Engineering and Technology Center. The curriculum helped earn Romeo High School an "evergreen" status with the Michigan Green Schools program. Indian Hills Elementary raised its status to "emerald" this year for implementing eco-friendly initiatives.

(Observer photo by Chris Gray)

High school, Indian Hills
honored for green works

Observer Staff Writer
      Two facilities in the Romeo Community Schools district have shown that green is the unofficial third color of the Bulldogs.
       Romeo High School has maintained its "evergreen" status, the highest ranking for the Michigan Green Schools program, for its alternative energy classes and conservative practices.
       Indian Hills Elementary has also been recognized as an "emerald" school, upping its status from "green" in its second year of becoming a more eco-friendly school.
       Michigan Green Schools is a non-profit agency that works with schools on projects and ideas that will protect the environment and animals.
       The agency, backed by a law established in 2006 and revised in 2010, asks schools to partake in 20 areas of educational, environmental activities in order to receive a certification.
       Schools that earn 10 to 14 points are awarded a "green" status, followed by "emerald" for earning 15 to 19 points. The top honor is "evergreen" for making 20 or more points.
       Superintendent Nancy Campbell and other Romeo representatives attended a ceremony held by the Macomb County Board of Commissioners on April 16 recognizing the 127 county schools that met or exceeded these requirements.
       Of the schools that applied this year, 27 received green, 48 earned emerald and 52 achieved evergreen.
       "This is something all of us need to work on as a community, it's bigger than Romeo schools," Campbell said. "We know if we don't preserve and protect, this lovely environment won't be there for our children."
       The projects are broken down into five categories: Recycling, energy, environmental protection, miscellaneous and proposed activity. The last category encourages schools to create their own activity so long as it's approved by the county.
       Kelly Carson, Students Enriching Romeo through Volunteer Experience (SERVE) coordinator, handles the application for the high school. She said the school continued its paper recycling and adopting an endangered species programs and enhanced literacy programs with green-themed media.
       "I was happy to find out that we did get the highest status," she said. "We submitted more potential points than was necessary so that we had enough to count for the highest status."
       She said a number of programs at the Romeo Engineering and Technology Center (RETC) were the bulk of the points. Evva Dossin, drafting and alternative energy instructor, said the RETC has done everything from solar panel projects to wind farm field trips.
       Dossin said the programs not only work on educating students, but also encouraging outreach into the community, such as working with local businesses for installing alternative energy at their facilities.
       "It makes you feel good that you're doing good things and getting recognition for that," Dossin said.
       An Indian Hills jewel
       This is the second year Indian Hills Elementary has taken up the challenge to be a green school. Amanda Rocha, the teacher-sponsor for Indian Hills' Green School effort, said students and teachers worked hard to increase the number of activities to move up to emerald.
       "The first year was learning what we could do, and this year we made it all about the kids and putting them in charge of all these activities," she said.
       Some of this year's efforts included the school starting school-wide paper recycling, collecting donations to adopt an endangered gray wolf and decorating 500 Kroger grocery bags to donate back to the store for shoppers to use.
       Rocha said part of the credit goes to Leslie Hill, a parent with Indian Hills, who assisted Rocha with the effort. Hill said she was thrilled to see the school upgrade its status.
       "I feel like we're finally making progress as a school, and I think the teachers are proud of it," Hill said.
       Hill said educating students and parents about taking care of the earth is the first step to motivating people to leave their planet better than how they found it.
       "I just want my kids to grow up being responsible for their actions," she said.
       Last year, Amanda Moore Elementary earned "emerald" for projects like a native plant garden, vegetable garden and a worm composter.

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Retrieved 8/2/2015 at 12:15:50 AM.
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