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Curtis Honored With Green Schools Award

The University Place school received the award last week for its efforts to reduce waste, particularly with energy efficiency.

Ryan Misley, an Environmental Educator from Pierce County’s Department of Public Works and Utilities, awarded Curtis High School its Green Schools, Level 1 flag and certificate last Friday during its Fall Recognition Assembly.

Curtis earned the award in the area of waste reduction and is the first school in Pierce County to receive Washington Green School certification. The Washington Green Schools program has mapped out a doable program for schools to assess and take action in six areas: energy efficiency; recycling and waste reduction; reduction of toxins and indoor air quality; transportation and outdoor air quality; as well as water quality and conservation on campus.

This year, Curtis is beginning to work in the area of energy efficiency. Already, the office staff dims its lights and many teachers voluntarily choose to use fewer banks of light as well.

For nearly two decades, Life Skills students have recycled for Curtis. More recently, their program has expanded to include broadening support from Administrators, Teachers, Custodians, Kitchen Staff and Environmental Club students.  Last spring, Bill Keller’s Advanced Placement Environmental Class, completed a rigorous waste assessment at the school. He reported positively that relatively few recyclables were entering the system.

One goal resulting from the waste assessment was to improve recycling in the gym and at games, and another, to commit the kitchen staff to reducing food and packaging waste. Monique Thompson and her team of cooks at Curtis now order fewer and smaller supplies for food, some of which decompose quickly. As well, they compost from the kitchen area. The culinary arts department also takes part in this effort.

Leaders from Washington Green Schools and Curtis encourage more schools to participate in this very effective program. Indeed, any institution that wants to run more efficiently could follow its guidelines.

Founding member, Claire Burdick, of the Environmental Club, who visited the assembly, said “I am relieved to think that Curtis continues to work on Environmental Issues.  I really hope more schools join this program.”

Senior Matt Kerns, who escorted Ryan Misley out the door, awarded him with a Mason Bee house that he had made himself.  He shared with Ryan that he plans to prepare for a career in Environmental Engineering.

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