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Queens Chronicle

PS 154 earns its green ecology flag

Students reduced waste, recycled, planted a garden and lots more

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Posted: Thursday, March 6, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:39 am, Thu Mar 13, 2014.

PS 154 in Flushing has received the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA Green Flag award for improving its efforts to conserve natural resources and integrate environmental education into the curriculum.

It’s the second of only two New York City’s schools to receive the honor.

The Green Flag was presented at a school assembly last week by the National Wildlife Federation’s Emily Fano.

One reason the school was honored was its prior victory in a GrowNYC recycling contest.

“You guys won the contest with a 54 percent recycling rate,” an increase of 268 percent, Fano said.

The school was also cited by the NWF for reducing its trash by 46 percent, launching a student health and nutrition program, planting a garden and instituting environment-themed curricula.

“Our goal is to create future generations of environmental leaders who will solve tomorrow’s problems,” Fano said. Since the NYC Eco-Schools effort was launched in 2012 with eight schools, more than 210 schools have chosen to participate.

The school’s principal, Tara Davidson, told the students that they have “greened” the school’s culture to such an extent that all of its assistant principals were reluctant to throw away any trash at the end of a recent meeting and took it home.

“So at the next meeting we have, you guys are going to have to train the adults in what to do because they didn’t know,” Davidson said.

Also attending was Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows), who grew up in the area and is friends with Davidson.

“It’s really important to remind ourselves that it starts in the classroom and at home,” said Rozic, who grew up in Fresh Meadows and sits on the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee. “It’s nice to see that programming translated back home.”

The city Department of Education rewarded the school for its achievement with a $5,000 check delivered during the ceremony by DOE Director of Sustainability Sharon Jaye.

After the speeches, the NWF’s raccoon mascot, Ranger Rick, surprised the children, who then broke into smaller groups to celebrate with such activities as potting plants, snacking on healthy foods and exercising.

The school will use the $5,000 to purchase two iPads, books and magazines to help the eco-team with its work, energy “smart” strips to make it easier for teachers to turn off electronic devices at the end of the day, two composting bins, flowers for the school’s garden and incentives for teachers whose classes achieve certain energy-saving goals under the program.

The students started the school down the path toward the Green Flag during classes with science teacher Deise Kenny, Davidson said. “They started saying, ‘We need to be better at recycling.’” The school got involved with GrowNYC and won that organization’s Big Lift Recycling contest last spring, achieving the highest recycling rates among 22 schools during a six-week period.

The NWF brought its national Eco-Schools program to NYC in 2012.

CORRECTIONS

This article was corrected to say that PS 154 won a GrowNYC recycling contest that was only part of the reason it was awarded the Green Flag, and to say that Assemblywoman Nily Rozic grew up in Fresh Meadows.

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