There is only one thing that stands between Atholton and a Green School certificate: the initiative of Atholton students. There are currently 30 members in STEAM Team and 15 members in SGA Executive Board who are pushing for change. According to STEAM Team, the average student at Atholton can do more.
A student is standing in the cafeteria with an empty plastic bottle in their hand. Do they throw it away or recycle it? Although everyone knows you’re supposed to recycle, it is sometimes more convenient to just trash it. This may not seem like a big deal because it is only one bottle. However, according to STEAM Team, that one bottle can make a difference.
“We are in discussion with the cafeteria staff to revamp attention specifically in the lunchroom on recycling,” said SGA Executive Board Vice President Henry Cikanek.
For a school to be considered a “Green School” in Maryland, it must fulfill certain requirements to prove that it is environmentally-friendly. This can include activities such as conserving energy and water at the school, reducing erosion around the school building, and many other beneficial activities for the environment. Currently 50% of the high schools in Howard County are certified as Green Schools, and Atholton is striving to gain certification. The high schools in Howard County currently certified include Centennial, Hammond, Howard, Marriotts Ridge, Reservoir, and River Hill.
In October 2015, ten HCPSS schools were certified as Green Schools, bringing the total to 45 environmentally-friendly schools in Howard County. Since then, there have not been any further additions in the county; however, Atholton is taking serious strides to establish itself as a Green School. With the help of Atholton’s STEAM Team, as well as the Student Government Association (SGA), this goal will hopefully be accomplished soon.
The two clubs have already begun to take small steps towards energy and water conservation in the school. Recently, email reminders have been sent out to the teachers at Atholton reminding them to turn off the lights in their classrooms when they leave.
“The staff, as far as I know, has been much more energy efficient since renovation,” said Cikanek. Updates to the heating and electricity in the school have made energy conservation far more efficient in Atholton as well. The STEAM Team has also been going through trash and trash cans to pick out any items that should have been recycled. Along with that, the club has even planted gardens in the courtyard.
SGA and STEAM Team also have been working on the implementation of water bottle fillers at Atholton. This would lead to the decrease in use of plastic water bottles and will encourage students to bring a bottle that can be filled up and reused.
“Even just that little bit of time between sticking your water bottle under the water fountain and when you actually press the water to go on, it can waste gallons and gallons of water,” said senior Jasmine Richman, President of STEAM Team. The water bottle fillers would cut down on the waste of water in the school. “ Overall it’s just a really simple and relatively cheap way to make our school greener,” said Richman.
SGA has supported the STEAM Team and their Green School efforts throughout the year, and will continue their support with any future plans.
“What SGA can provide is monetary support, as well as plenty more dedicated hands to the cause,” said Cikanek.
The future Green School initiative plans include organizing recycling drives as well as placing more emphasis on recycling in the cafeteria. These two clubs cannot certify Atholton as a Green School on their own; however, both clubs encourage all students and staff to help pitch in and help out.
“The biggest difference is student involvement. In order for Atholton to be a Green School, the whole student body needs to be motivated to make changes,” said Cikanek.
The future is bright regarding the possibility of Atholton’s Green School certification. The deciding factor will be whether or not the staff and student body are ready and willing to make a change for the better.