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King County Green Schools program success story: Kentlake High School

Success story: Kentlake High School

School District: Kent
School Location: Kent
Began participating in the Green Schools Program: February 2012

Level One of the Green Schools Program: Achieved in May 2012

Waste reduction and recycling (level one)

  • Kentlake High School maintains a 60 percent recycling rate.
  • Green Team students promoted waste-free lunches, reminding students to only take what they will eat and to eat what they take.
  • As part of a district-wide decision to reduce waste, the school replaced plastic-wrapped utensils with loose utensils and eliminated straws in the lunchroom.
  • Recycling containers were added to the lunchroom for milk cartons, plastic bottles and aluminum cans, and stickers listing what can and can’t be recycled were placed on all school recycling containers.
  • Green Team students presented a skit during lunch to teach other students what can and can’t be recycled.
  • Staff lunchroom monitors educate and encourage students to recycle their milk cartons and other materials.
  • One-sided paper reuse trays were placed in each classroom to reduce paper use. Some teachers use the back sides of this paper for tests.
  • Paper is rationed to 500 copies per teacher per month to limit paper use.
  • Excess school newspapers are given to the ceramics classes for use in school art projects.
  • In 2011-12, the school began phasing in student laptops. Each student will be given a laptop to complete most daily assignments rather than printing paper copies of school work.
  • To promote waste reduction and recycling efforts, Green Team students and staff presented recycling tips in PA announcements, school newsletters, on a school bulletin board, and on posters displayed in the lunchroom.
  • Head custodian Gary Newsom works closely with the student Green Team and uses teachable moments on a daily basis to remind students about waste reduction and recycling behaviors.
  • Health classes take ownership of the recycling process by emptying classroom recycling bins weekly for the custodian.
  • Art teacher Eric Wall has recycled clay in his classroom for 15 years. Under the leadership of Mr. Wall, clay art classes reduce their environmental impact in the following ways.
    • Between 150 and 200 pounds of clay per week are recycled and reused. Clay that dries out, including scraps from the classroom floor, are placed in barrels of water and rehydrated. The wet clay is then placed on plaster tables and allowed to dry until it can be used again.
    • The kiln is only fired if it is completely full, and smaller pots are placed inside of larger pots to use the kiln space efficiently.
    • Butcher paper that absorbs moisture from clay projects is dried out and reused.
    • Second uses are found for clay and clay glaze packaging, including plastic bags, boxes and buckets.
    • Glazes whose color is not identifiable are added to a bucket labeled “mystery.” Students enjoy using the mystery bucket glazes because the outcome is a surprise.

For more information about the school’s conservation achievements and participation in the Green Schools Program, contact:

Jennifer Finley, teacher
Kei Higaki, teacher
Gary Newsom, head custodian
Beth Gilbertson, Kent School District environmental services supervisor
King County Solid Waste Division mission: Waste Prevention, Resource Recovery, Waste Disposal

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