District 65 students stress ‘green’ in ‘Green Apple’ environmental effort
Elizabeth Nelson and her 5-year-old, daughter, Maya, work on a poster during the recent Green Apple Day at Dr. Bessie Rhodes Magnet School in Evanston. | Brian O'Mahoney~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 26, 2012 6:52AM
EVANSTON — Parents and teachers gathered together after school Sept. 28 at Dr. Bessie Rhodes Magnet School in Skokie to help students create original artwork promoting environmental awareness for the first Green Apple Day of Service.
Evanston/Skokie District 65 students drew colored and painted signs that will be laminated and posted throughout the school to serve as daily reminders to their classmates to practice a “green” lifestyle at school.
Using recycled materials, students were free to design the signs however they wished, but with the goal of encouraging students and teachers to save energy, conserve water, promote cleaner air and take steps toward promoting a healthier learning environment.
The signs will later be placed throughout the building near sinks, water fountains, light switches, recycling bins and garbage cans, said Becky Brodsky, a parent and the chair of the Green School Committee (GSC) at Bessie Rhodes.
“It’s about creating art to remind people of the importance of environmental awareness,” Brodsky said. “The Green School Committee is trying to touch every aspect of the school.”
Brodsky has promoted other green initiatives at the school, including a recent zero-waste school-wide picnic and a recycling-and-compost program in the lunch room.
“We want kids to start thinking about what happens to the waste they throw away,” Brodsky said. “They need to know it doesn’t just disappear.”
More than 30 schools across Illinois participated in different programs for Green Apple Day, a nationwide initiative to promote healthy, environmentally sustainable schools created by the Center for Green Schools and the U.S. Green Building Council.
Brodsky said getting children to be mindful of recycling and other everyday actions geared toward a green-minded lifestyle is an ongoing effort.
“The kids are receptive, but it’s always a challenge to keep their mindfulness going,” Brodsky said.
Evanston parent Elizabeth Nelson joined her 5-year-old kindergartner, Maya Nelson, after school to help her design a sign. Nelson said she thinks it’s important to talk to children about their impact on the environment at an early age.
“It’s funny because she’s only 5, but she already knows more about composting than recycling,” Nelson said.
Another mom and a volunteer for the GSC, Patricia Forman, said she thinks children are becoming increasingly mindful of the choices they can make to have a positive environmental impact.
“My kids have started getting mad when I use the regular plastic bags in their lunches,” Forman said. “They think it’s cool to use reusable bottles and containers in the lunch room because that’s what all their friends are doing.”
As part of Green Apple Day, Chicago-based fluorescent-bulb recycling company EverLights donated recycling containers to the school where students can drop off old light bulbs and batteries to be recycled.