A GISSV 11th grader shares her research findings about bioplastic and environmentally-friendly lunch packaging.
In January 2016, GISSV took a big step forward in fostering environmental consciousness and sustainability on campus: We adopted a plan to become an “Eco-School.”
The Eco-School program started in 1992 after the first and crucial United Nations conference on the Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. The program was born in response to the needs identified at this conference. Since then, more than 48,000 schools in nearly 60 countries participate in this initiative, which encourages participation from everyone: students, teachers, school staff, parents and the local community. The program not only improves the school environment, but it also encourages environmental sustainability and stewardship on the school campus, in the local community and globally.
GISSV formally adopted the Eco-School program in January 2016 and will implement it in three stages. Completing each stage will earn GISSV a respective award: the Bronze Award, the Silver Award, and eventually, the Green Flag Award, the highest award in the Eco-Schools program.
At the end of our 2015/2016 school year, we reached our goal and got the award of the bronze flag. Many steps into the direction of the silver flag are already made. Our school community agreed on three pathways with regard to environment protection for the school years 2016/2017 and 2017/2018: “consumption and waste”, “healthy school” and the mandatory topic “energy”. The “GISSV Goes Green“ project week, successful participation in the „Greenlight“- Festival, “Walk-/Bike-/Roll-to-School Day”, ecological topics in our curriculum, field trips to environmental institutions nearby and numerous other activities are the living proof for the education of an environmental awareness and stewardship, linked to our curriculum. In Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's words:
In the living nature nothing happens that is not in connection with the whole.
It is this connection that we want to establish at our school: „GISSV Goes Green.“
Once a school has registered as an Eco-School USA and implemented all necessary steps, they can apply for an Eco-Schools award for concentrating on one or more environmental focus areas, or pathways, that are most relevant to the school. There are three levels of the award system: Bronze, Silver and the prestigious Green Flag.
In school year 2015/ 2016 the GISSV joined the worldwide ECO-school movement, an ECO-Committee was formed that includes teacher representatives from all age-groups and campus locations, students, staff and parents, and our current Eco-Code “GISSV Goes Green” was created. We are currently concentrating on three pathways: “Consumption and Waste”, “Energy” and “Healthy School”.
The Bronze Award
In June 2016 we could already achieve the Bronze Award based on our work on the pathway “Consumption and Waste”. Students, parents and teachers analyzed the school’s waste during the 2015 GISSV Goes Green Project Days. They jointly developed an action plan and implemented compost, CRV and paper recycling at the Mountain View school campus during the 2015/2016 school year.
We are now preparing steps and actions for the application of the Silver Award by achieving even more significant progress on these three pathways and creating a new Eco-code. We are on a good way: Our Eco-Code will be renewed with the help of the ideas of all GISSV students, it shall state our school's environmental values in a memorable way for students and community. Furthermore we could achieve great successes also during this school year with regard to the pathways “Energy” and “Healthy School” - on the one hand we could switch conventional lights in major parts of the school to LED lights and on the other hand we could reduce triggers of asthma by switching our cleaning supplies over to the brand Green Label. Our aim is to be able to apply for the Silver Award by the end of the 2017/2018 school year.
Our school community will be informed of all the progress our ECO-Committee achieves via our “Friday Folder” and on this webpage.
(We are also working on a whole-school curriculum concept that shall link our environmental curriculum and school-wide projects and allow for the development of environmental stewardship in all of our GISSV students. )
Our ultimate aim is in educating our students to feel empowered, environmentally responsible, active members of our society with a wide knowledge base on environmental topics. And as a sign of this being awarded the Green Flag Award of the worldwide ECO-schools organization.
On Thursday, GISSV San Francisco students voluntarily took several litter walks.
The Eco-Committee secured a $300 grant from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) for organizing Litter Walks around the GISSV campuses.
At the beginning of the school year 2015/2016, GISSV started to offer the walk-/bike-/roll-to-school day once a month. Before that, it was only once a year. Shall we do it once a week?!
Why is Walk-/Bike-/Roll-to-School Day important to GISSV?
- The first reason, but not the only one, is that it helps to maintain a cleaner environment. Less cars means less air pollution.
- The community benefits, too. The parking lot and the streets close to the school are not so crowded, so for parents, students and neighbors who really need to park there, it is not as hard.
- Walking or biking to school is a very healthy habit that makes you do some exercise while you get fresh air!
- Also, a point to think about is that letting older children go alone to school makes them feel (and be) more independent.
- Two more arguments in favor of not using the car is that you don't have to pay for gas and that some places are more accessible to you.
- So be active and healthy and participate in the walk-/bike-/roll-to-school day!
- A tip for all families who don’t live close to the school: you can also participate by parking your car a couple of blocks away from the school and enjoy a nice walk.
The biennial "GISSV Goes Green" project days teaches preschool through 11th grade students about environmental issues and stewardship through hands-on projects.
Students select the project they would like to work on over a three-day period. At the end, the projects are explained and exhibited by the students to the entire GISSV community of students, teachers, staff and parents. For previous "GISSV Goes Green" days, the mixed-age project groups studied topics including:
- From Farm to Table: Where food comes from and how it makes its way to your plate.
- Making New Out of Old: Learn how to reuse and restore old furniture.
- Everything About Paper: Learn how to avoid wasting paper and recycling paper to make new paper and other paper products.
- Get the Monster Out of the Bin: Examine the path of GISSV’s waste to the disposal site and figure out ways to reduce waste and encourage recycling.
- Great and Green Volunteer Work: Learn about restoring and maintaining a state park, what are native and invasive plant species, and volunteer opportunities.
- Bees Will Buzz: How is honey and beeswax made? What are the dynamics of the beehive? What is happening to the bee population?
From the years 2012 to 2015, students from GISSV elementary, middle and high school participated in the annual "Greenlight Film Festival."*
The Greenlight Film Festival was an annual Earth Day celebration with the purpose of raising awareness of the environment by letting students create short videos which will be shown to the public.
Our GISSV students were very motivated to showcase their own creativity and interest into a movie while making a statement about environment and and environmental changes.
The finalist videos were shown at the annual Greenlight Film Festival which was held at the Cubberley Theater in Palo Alto. During the last years we had several finalists among GISSV students (Please click on the titles to see the video clips):2015
- Finalist I category middle school: “GISSV- Trash Challenge”, Kimi J., Laura F., Mila K. (grade 6)
- Finalist I open category: “California Catastrophie!” (starting at minute 46:30), Ane-Britt B., Anya V. (grade 5)
- “California Drought”, grade 5a & Mrs. Magiera
- “The Banana’s Journey”, grade 5a & Mrs. Magiera
- Finalist I open category: “Barbie Goes Green”, Magdalena N. & Emily J. (grade 4)
- Appearance in "Then and Now - Greenlight Film Festival Finalist 2014" (GISSV competition entry starting at minute 1.06)
- Finalist I open category: “The Trash Cleaner for the Environment”, Hendrik D., Gabriel M., Sebastian V. (grade 4) & Mrs. Magiera
- Finalist I open category: "The T-Shirt Idea", grade 3 & Mrs. Jackson, Mrs. Spreen
- Finalist I open category: "We Want to Make a Difference", grade 1b & Mrs. Dillinger
- Finalist I category middle school: "save.", Johannes N. & Eric R. (grade 7)
- Winner I category middle school: “How to be green”, Johannes N., Pavel T., Jannik M. (grade 6)
- Winner I open category: “Greenlight Power”, Karen R.-M., Clara F., Emetis A., Serena F. (grade 3)
- Winner I special prize: “Living the Green Life”, Maximilian R. and Emilia R. (grade 7)
*Unfortunately, this event has been discontinued.