County honors Issaquah district schools as Earth Heroes

March 30, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 12:15 p.m. March 30, 2011

King County is honoring Grand Ridge Elementary School — plus teachers, a student, and a staff member from across the Issaquah School District — as Earth Heroes at School.

The annual honor highlights schools and people for contributions to environmental protection and student environmental education. The county Department of Natural Resources and Parks’ Solid Waste Division announced the 2011 honorees Wednesday.

“Winners of the Earth Heroes at School awards are a diverse group who share the common goal of making our world a better place,” County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “It is an honor to recognize their achievements in environmental education, waste reduction, energy conservation and other positive efforts.”

Grand Ridge Elementary recorded a 35-percent recycling rate last year.

Eager to do more, students, teachers and staff members improved recycling in classrooms and offices, and started a food scrap-recycling program. The schoolwide Media Club created a video to demonstrate proper recycling and composting. Moreover, the Issaquah Highlands school promoted recycling at all school events.

The result: The recycling rate increased to 62 percent.

The county spotlighted Issaquah Middle School teachers Olga Haider and Michelle Pickard for spearheading a successful and sustainable resource conservation program at the school.

Pickard laid the framework for recycling and waste reduction — and helped the school reach Level 1 Green School status. Then, Haider helped the school reach the tougher-to-achieve Level 2 status through water conservation and by installing a school organic garden.

The recycling rate at Issaquah High School concerned student Kate Brunette, another Earth Heroes honoree.

So, Brunette gathered support from the city and the county Green Schools Program, and reached out to students, custodial staff members, teachers and administrators to implement strategies to increase recycling. The efforts included adding food waste collection to the program.

David Holbrook started the recycling program on the first day of school at the just-opened Creekside Elementary School. In the first month, the recycling rate at the school reached 55 percent.

In addition, Holbrook supports all conservation efforts at Creekside, and uses eco-friendly cleaning products to maintain the campus’ sustainable features.

Constantine plans to honor the local honorees and others from across the county at a ceremony April 14.

Issaquah district schools often clean up in the Earth Heroes competition.

Cascade Ridge Elementary School, Maywood Middle School and Pine Lake Middle School received schoolwide awards last year.

The county honored Issaquah Middle and Challenger Elementary School in 2009.

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