Fifty Holly Grove Middle School sixth-graders known as the Green Team Mob won the Wake County Public School System’s Energy & Environmental Stewardship competition, netting the school $1,600 from the N.C. Triangle Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.
The team came together as part of a sixth-grade enrichment class in fall 2011 and communicated its message of environmental awareness throughout the school year.
The first time Holly Grove Middle School’s Green Team Mob went out on the grounds to pick up garbage, the students collected 15 bags of trash. The next week? Six bags. By the last two weeks of garbage pick-up, students struggled to find trash.
Sixth-grade science teacher Amber Clark wanted to raise awareness about what one person’s efforts could do. “The trash pick-up showed immediate evidence that when you make an effort, things improve.”
Fellow science teacher Amy Mizenko said the hardest part of the green effort was to show growth; Holly Grove is only two years old and was built with green building practices in mind.
So the Green Team Mob didn’t stop at one detail. Clark and Mizenko continued to brainstorm with students about ways they could “green” the school.
“We did everything from picking up litter on Fridays to planting plants for teachers as reminders to be green,” said sixth-grader Darla Brown. “We hosted Black Out Fridays where we dimmed the lights and reduced energy usage, and we reminded teachers to clean their classrooms and unplug unnecessary appliances.”
Fellow sixth-grader Ashley Svalina said Mob students put reminders on paper towel dispensers in the bathrooms to limit paper waste. “We also have something called Green Lunch, where we use squeegees instead of paper towels to clean the tables,” she said.
Svalina said she was inspired by the efforts. “I want to motivate others. I’m excited that our teachers are thinking about including seventh-graders in the activities next year.”
Svalina was not the only student wanting to stay involved in environmental awareness projects. Mizenko said after students made commercials on flip cameras and got involved in environmental audits, they didn’t want to stop. “We had 100 students apply for 50 spots on the Green Team Mob,” she said. “The main thing I want students to take away from the experience is that one person can make a difference.”