Getting Gold for Going Green!
April 23, 2020 - Livermore, CA- Prior to the pandemic, it’s no wonder that Altamont Creek Elementary would be recognized as a 2020 California Green Ribbon Gold Award School, as students and staff could not help but be ecologically inspired with views of rolling hills, wide vistas, and active wildlife seen from their classroom windows, school garden and playgrounds each day.
Since 2012, the California Department of Education has recognized schools and school districts across the state for environmental excellence who demonstrate achievement of the three pillars of a Green Ribbon School: reducing the environmental impact and costs; improving the health and wellness of schools, students and,staff; and providing effective environmental education through the incorporation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), civic skills, and green career pathways.
Altamont Creek was the first school in the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District (LVJUSD) to be awarded the Green Ribbon School Silver Award in 2019 and has had its sights set on achieving the Gold Award all year. "We couldn’t have made this leap without our partners in local and state government, StopWaste and CalRecycle. By building on the strides we made last year, we amplified our food waste prevention program by coordinating food donations that allowed for surplus food to be given to those in need in our community. In addition, we continued to divert tons of materials from the landfill,” said Science and STEM teacher Fenna Gatty.
At Altamont Creek, students, parents, and staff have a dedicated desire to keep the school environment clean, efficient, healthy, and safe, by minimizing waste at all levels and leaving a smaller footprint on the planet. The integration of sustainable living practices through educational programming and student-managed recycling and food waste reduction programs, has made “going green” part of Altamont’s school culture and identity. Starting in TK, teachers use songs, games, and puppets to teach their youngest learners how to sort trash and be “Eco Warriors.” As students progress through their elementary years, they learn about recycling and conservation, impacts on weather and environmental change, renewable energy, plant and animal ecosystems, and decomposition.
“Our students serve as inspiration and learn firsthand what being an environmental steward truly means,” Gatty said. Outside of the classroom, students can become part of the Green Team which monitors recycling systems and educates others on what items should be recycled, composted, or sent to a landfill. “I joined the Green Team after I watched a video of a turtle with a straw in its nose. That video made me feel sad and I wanted to help,” shared fourth grade student, Alyssa Peters. Third through fifth grade students can also be part of the Green Council Leadership Team, an advisory think tank for students to explore solutions to a variety of environmental issues affecting our community.
“None of this could have happened without the unending support of our principal, Tara Aderman, and the unsung heroes, our custodial staff," said Gatty. Even during school dismissal, Principal Tara Aderman has reminded her students how they continue to make an impact while not at school. “We’ve shared how unplugging our appliances, turning off heat and air conditioning, and rototilling our school garden in preparation for planting next year, are all ways Altamont Creek is continuing to be environmentally responsible when we aren’t physically at school. We are reminding students and families how they can contribute by purchasing local produce, continuing to recycle, and reducing food waste at home.”