In a very short period of time, a group of Acton-Boxborough Regional High School students dropped the school's electricity consumption by 10 percent, completely reorganized the school's cafeteria waste system by providing recycle and compost bins (in which the recycling has been brought to 250 percent from the previous year and the amount of trash bags headed to the dumpster everyday was reduced from an average of 40 bags to four), started a reusable water bottle campaign (encouraging students to drink Acton's water), and if that wasn't enough, constructed a rain garden with the help from the Acton Garden Club.
Several students who devoted a great deal of their time to revamp the school's consumption of waste were awarded with the International Green Flag Award by the National Wildlife Federation on Friday, May 4.
What is the Green Flag award?
The ECO Schools USA Program is an international sustainability program involving 53 countries around the world encouraging students to green their school. The program has been in existence for about 20 years but it just recently came to the US two years ago through the National Wildlife Federation. Only three schools in the country have been awarded the Green Flag and Acton-Boxborough just became the fourth.
They did so by forming the Green Council and by providing the school with an environmental audit, determining what plan of action to take to reduce the school's consumption of waste. They worked with faculty and community groups to address this issue. Though if you ask any faculity member, they will immediately tell you it was a student driven effort.
According to Liz Soper, National Wildlife Federation (ECO Schools USA Program) who presented the award to the school, most school's that strive for this award receive it after years of work.
"They are high achievers," said Soper. "They have gone way beyond what they needed to do to receive this award. What I find just incredible is the amount of connections they have made to the real world and what it is going to be like as they do some of this type of work as they move beyond high school."
The Green Flag award was presented to the students and the school Friday afternoon with a brief ceremony in the high school auditorium.
The students were showered with praise from faculty and state representatives. US Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, State Senator James Eldridge, Representative Jen Benson, Superintendent Steven Mills, Principal Alixe Callen, Coordinator of Facilities and Transportation John D. Head and Energy Advisor for the AB Public Schools Kate Crosby all gave a congratulatory speech for the student's efforts in greening Acton-Boxborough Regional High School.
Acton Board of Selectmen Pamela A. Harting-Barrat, Mike Gowning, Janet K. Adachi and David Clough sat in the audience with Assistant Town Manager John Murray and community leaders from Green Acton, the Acton Garden Club and the Iron Work Farm.