Where Earth Day is Every Day
At Blue Rock School, we are deeply committed to preserving the health, wellbeing and beauty of our planet and all of its creatures, and feel that this positive connection to nature is not only a gift, but a duty to our children and generations to come. As a school, we were early adopters of sustainable practices and have always strived to do our part to minimize our carbon footprint. We have made green living a priority by instituting many eco-friendly standards and practices over the years. We have also enlisted the help of parents to join our student Vine Brigade which helps remove invasive species on campus during bi-annual community work days.
As an institution of learning, we are of course equally dedicated to modeling and teaching our students the importance of respecting the earth and all living things. Environmental education happens organically throughout the day, as it is woven into the culture of daily life at the school. Just a few examples are our waste-free lunch program, recycling, composting, use of LED lightbulbs, the conservation of energy and materials, (all paper goods are made from recycled materials) and the use of eco-friendly cleaning products on campus. Large, disposable, plastic water coolers were replaced long ago when water filters were installed campus wide on our drinking fountains and sinks. To avoid using individual, single-use, plastic bottles, utensils and paper cups, students are encouraged to bring their own reusable water bottles, ceramic mugs for tea, and stainless steel flatware. The school also owns flatware that it uses for all school events. Students are also encouraged to make greener choices in the classrooms. For example, if they use their entire pencil down to the eraser, turn off the light when leaving the room, or use both sides of their paper, their efforts will be acknowledged. Each and every day we aim to gently create the awareness of our impact on the environment and the need to conserve our finite resources, to instill a genuine sense of caring and positive action that students will hopefully carry with them throughout their lives.
Green initiatives have also been woven more formally into the curriculum and dovetail perfectly into our hands-on approach, a hallmark of our learning style here at Blue Rock. Our gardening program is just one example which has really flourished in recent years, having grown from flowers only to include vegetables, berries and herbs. Specialty tea, dye and jewelry gardens have also recently been added. Gardening truly brings learning to life and has vastly enriched our science curriculum. The growing cycle and opportunities to learn continue all year and into the next with composting, the study of soil composition, beneficial insects, pollinators, and biodynamic agriculture. Students make the seed to table experience happen with their own hands.
Environmentalism is not limited to our own campus. For decades, Blue Rock students have participated in the “Day in the Life of the Hudson River” program each fall in conjunction with Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory− a division of Columbia University’s Earth Institute− where the health of the river and its inhabitants are examined through seining and water testing. Each spring, students partner with local environmental group Keep Rockland Beautiful to participate in the Great American Cleanup and remove trash from area streets and waterways. Students also take field trips to recycling facilities and landfills to study how waste is managed. Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills is among one of the favorite field trip destinations where middle schoolers team up with kindergarteners to picnic and learn about local, organic farming and agriculture.
Blue Rock is a member of the Green School Alliance, and as part of the school's goal to become a New York State green-certified school, we are currently researching the feasibility of solar power on campus and look forward to integrating that process into the curriculum as well. Blue Rock is also quickly becoming a single-use, plastic bag-free campus and advocating for the ban of plastic bags throughout the community and beyond.
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