Highland Park High School’s Positive Environmental Impact

By Jann Armenta for SUST 210 online

From turning cafeteria grease into biodiesel fuel, to building a habitat for endangered turtles, to keeping 90,000 plastic water bottles from going into the landfill, the students of Highland Park High school have made progressive impacts on their community. Assistant Principal Tom Koulentes states in the 1 October 2013 Chicago Tribune article, “Highland Park Talks Environmental Sustainability” that “Recycling was so eight years ago, our kids are so far beyond that now.”

Armenta imageThese amazing efforts to make a positive environmental impact through work done by students are all a part of Highland Park High School’s GSI (Green School Initiative). The GSI is a group of students and faculty members who are dedicated to working together as a team on projects designed to transform HPHS into a more environmentally resourceful and responsible institution.

HPHSNot only have these students begun a green movement within their school, but they’ve also had an impact within their community. They have also worked in close efforts with the park district of Highland Park in the restoration of a ravine emptying out at Ravine Beach, by growing fish from eggs in the science labs and releasing them into the pools and riffle system that allows for the fish to go up the ravine and back into Lake Michigan. In addition, they have managed to build a habitat for an endangered species of turtle known as “Blanding’s Turtle.” The pond was built so that they can raise the turtles and monitor them regularly.  With 40-60 students signing up for GSI each year, these efforts seem like just the beginning of what these bright and environmentally conscious students can do.

Programs like these should be implemented in schools across the nation, to not only make our environment more sustainable but our society as well. The earlier on that students and people in general are aware of the efforts that can be made to make a greener and more environmentally responsible future, the better. If it were up to me, courses like these would be mandatory, rather than electives.

Each week during the Fall 2013 semester, students in Prof. Mike Bryson’s SUST 210 Sustainable Future online class at Roosevelt University will contribute blog posts on suburban sustainability issues to the Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future website.

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About Suburban Sustainability

Founder and editor of the Schaumburg's Sustainability Future social media project (est. Earth Day, 2011)
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