Portland's Casco Bay High School hopes to become 'greenest' in Maine

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PORTLAND — Starting from the premise that all environmentally friendly actions add up, Casco Bay High School is reviewing what measures it can take to be a greener place.

The effort is part of the school’s annual look at how to improve learning, too.

At a recent brainstorming session, a group of students, parents and staff spent a full day discussing “how we can make CBHS greener in all aspects,” of the program, according to Principal Derek Pierce.

“It was a day teeming with wonderful and important ideas for how we could evolve toward our goal of being the greenest high school in the state (and one) that (also) graduates effective environmental stewards,” Pierce said this week.

He said a draft plan would be shared with faculty and student leaders later this month “for further review, refining and feedback.”

Brooke Teller, a science teacher and member of the Green Team at Casco Bay High, agreed with Pierce that the initial planning session was “exciting, inspiring and very productive.”

“We were able to synthesize a lot of our ideas into some great initiatives for the future,” she added, such as the possibility of adding solar panels to the campus and becoming a zero waste school.

“We believe that green acts all add up to bettering our world,” Teller said, including taking such simple measures as using silverware instead of plastic utensils in the cafeteria.

The overall goal of the work now underway, according to the draft plan, is to “identify the highest leverage ways to evolve our facility, our policies, our curriculum and our behavior so that they are more in line with our aspiration to be an environmentally sustainable and just community.”

To do that, members of the Future Task Force at Casco Bay High said, would include taking steps such as installing a green roof, creating produce gardens “and ensuring that sustainability is woven into our daily actions and curriculum.”

Other proposed actions include pursuing greater energy efficiency through improvements to the facility, such as LED lights, better windows, insulation, shades and passive solar heating.

Other steps suggested in the draft plan would move the school toward implementing zero-waste policies, encouraging everyone – not just students – to measure their carbon footprint, and creating a specialized science seminar with a sustainability focus.

To become a zero-waste school, the Future Task Force recommends eliminating all classroom garbage cans and installing both recycling and composting stations in a variety of locations.

Another suggestion in the draft plan is for Casco Bay High to create a checklist of “Small Green Acts” that could be used for self-assessment every fall and spring. That checklist would include reusable water bottles, not taking a straw, composting food waste and attempting to “leave no trace.”

Going forward, the draft plan said, Casco Bay High would also work to “cultivate students and staff who … are effective environmental stewards, make sustainable choices and get out of doors regularly to learn from and appreciate our natural world.”

In addition, the draft plan also calls for the creation of a new Green Certification that students could earn through green volunteering efforts and by taking green academic courses.

Students who receive a green endorsement, the plan states, will have demonstrated “a commitment to environmental stewardship” by showing they are “passionate about moving toward a more sustainable future both locally (and) at CBHS, as well as globally.”

“A green endorsement indicates that a student has shown leadership through education, service and activism,” the document adds.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

In its push to become the greenest high school in the state, Casco Bay High School in Portland would like to expand on the number and variety of gardens already installed in space it shares with Portland Arts and Technology High School.

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