April 10, 2010
On Saturday, April 10, 2010, Johnson State College hosted a successful High School Greening Summit for the second year running, an event which included an inspiring address from Summit co-sponsor Senator Bernie Sanders. The Summit features teams of high school students competing to obtain funding to institute environmental projects at their respective high schools and is hosted by the JSC Upward Bound Program, with help from a number of other JSC departments and personnel, including the Dean of Students, Admissions, Environmental and Health Sciences, Conference and Event Services, and Aramark. The competition attracted students from a number of Vermont high schools, all of whom were treated to a full day of environmental programming as a reward for their assumption of a leadership role in the fight to save the planet.
In her welcome remarks, JSC President Barbara Murphy noted how fitting it was that Senator Sanders is playing such a motivating role in the event. Murphy, who herself is supportive of efforts to "green up" the JSC campus, highlighted the Senator's concern for both environmental and educational issues, especially, in the case of the latter, for making the college dream more accessible to students from lower-income families with no prior higher education experience.
At the start of his address, Senator Sanders asserted that what we need is "a complete transformation of our energy situation." He then outlined a number of alternatives, including solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal, impressing all those in attendance with his grasp of many cutting-edge energy technologies. The Senator concluded by stating that though his generation could lend its support, he believed that ultimately it is the younger generations that must take the lead in finding creative, sustainable solutions to our current energy challenges.
Sanders was followed by filmmaker John O'Brien, who screened never-before-seen footage from his forthcoming movie about "the priorities of high school students and the challenges of saving the planet." Originally called "The Green Movie," and currently entitled "Oxymorons," O'Brien's film is a work-in-progress.
Next, students engaged in hands-on workshops taught by JSC faculty and staff members. One group, taught by EHS Department Chair Liz Dolci, learned how to determine whether or not food items had been genetically modified. Another, led by Chemical Hygiene Officer Keith Kirchner, measured the electrical consumption of small appliances such as iPods, while the third, overseen by Dining Services Director Tadd Stone and Assistant Director James Consentino, learned about the local food options offered by the JSC cafeteria, with participating students even helping to prepare some of the localvore lunch that followed the workshops.
After lunch, it was on to the student formal and creative presentations, based on written proposals submitted earlier. All teams impressed the judging panels, which were made up of JSC staff and students and local community members from the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, the Vermont Energy Education Program, and a certified "green" building company. When the day was done, the awards, made possible by the Vermont Community Foundation's Green Mountain Fund and two anonymous local benefactors, were given out as follows:
First Place - Enosburg High School - $1,000 towards the purchase of 300 reusable shopping bags with an original green design printed on them. The bags will have an attached tag that will explain the drawbacks of using plastic bags and will be distributed to every Enosburg student's family, as well as school staff and faculty. One of the Summit judges went so far as to say that she loved the design and was hoping to purchase the bags for herself!
Second Place- Lyndon State College Upward Bound Team - $500 towards the purchase of ceiling occupancy sensors to replace standard light switches, to be installed in selected restrooms of three high schools in the LSC Upward Bound Program: Lake Region, Lyndon Institute, and Craftsbury Academy.
Tie for Third Place- Peoples Academy & North Country Union High School - $300 each towards the purchase of compost containers at Peoples, as well as energy-efficient light bulbs for North Country and also some bushes to be planted outside of the walkways between North Country buildings, in order to create some shade and thus to mitigate extreme temperatures inside the links.