Shortly after the start of this school year, the plastic utensils at Waupaca High School (WHS) were replaced with silverware, and the paper plates were no more.
It was among the first accomplishments of the high school’s Green Team, and they have plenty of more ideas.
Last spring, Samantha Bailey came up with the idea to start a Green Team at the school, and getting rid of the plastic utensils and paper plates that some students used at lunch was one of the group’s goal.
Their next target is Styrofoam.
Bailey graduated last spring, and other students took the reins.
This small group of students meets weekly to discuss their progress and goals, under the advisement of Jeff Dolski, who is one of the guidance counselors at the high school.
“Basically, when we keep talking to teachers we know, we find that many have an interest in this – sustainability. Word is spreading. More people are interested in it than we thought,” said Alex Goke, who is a senior at WHS and a member of the Green Team.
The Green Team put in a countless number of hours to create “Go Green With the WHS Green Team,” an exhibit about sustainability that is on display through Feb. 19 in the Waupaca Area Public Library Exhibit Room.
Goke sees sustainability as being an issue and said the goal is to educate, raise awareness and to promote the idea.
With the help of Working Together for Waupaca County, which is a group that has these same goals, the Green Team created the exhibit for the library.
WHS Senior Abigail Schmick said the Green Team was approached last summer about the idea of putting together such an exhibit.
Goke, Schmick, Erin Gates and Ana McCrorey are all seniors at the high school, and Dolski said the four of them have put as much work into their efforts as 100 students in a club would.
“To me, it makes sense to be sustainable,” said Gates, who grew up recycling in her home.
Schmick is also interested in the idea, and McCrorey says it bothers her when she sees waste. “People don’t understand the impact of throwing a can or wasting food,” she said.
And, Goke has always had a deep respect for nature and believes in preserving it.
Since the team formed last spring, there have been road cleanups, the move to get rid of plastic utensils and paper plates at lunch and research about getting solar panels at the high school.
They are particularly interested in energy efficiency.
“We could be a case study – a model for other high schools to look to become sustainable. People could be taking field trips to our school,” Goke said.
The team’s exhibit at the library is one of several steps they have taken to educate others about how to be sustainable.
During a recent in-service day, the students talked to the teachers about the issue.
“Mr. (Dale) Feldt (a math teacher at the high school) went down to one light switch for an entire class period,” Goke said.
Students saw other teachers do the same thing.
Gates said, “We’re hoping the exhibit will draw some teens in. I was hoping we could have one of our half days be about the conservation of energy in our school.”
In next week’s County Post West, learn about the steps taken to reduce energy consumption at Waupaca High School.