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With District Resolution, Princeton Gets Closer To Sustainable Jersey’s Silver Certification

EARTH DAY AT COMMUNITY PARK: Parents and students joined Community Park School (CP) science teacher John Emmons (the one with the pitch fork) at the School Saturday, April 27, to celebrate Earth Day by working in the gardens. During his five years at the school, Mr. Emmons and a team of volunteers has transformed once-barren grassy areas into beautiful and functional gardens that are also outdoors classrooms for lessons about soil, sun, planting, life cycles and more. From left: Lee Yonish, David Gray, Mr. Emmons, Tom Pinneo, Cameron Gray, Luca Petrecca, Julian Chorney, Orlando Fuquen, and Stephanie Chorney.(Photo by Jennifer Lea Cohan)

EARTH DAY AT COMMUNITY PARK: Parents and students joined Community Park School (CP) science teacher John Emmons (the one with the pitch fork) at the School Saturday, April 27, to celebrate Earth Day by working in the gardens. During his five years at the school, Mr. Emmons and a team of volunteers has transformed once-barren grassy areas into beautiful and functional gardens that are also outdoors classrooms for lessons about soil, sun, planting, life cycles and more. From left: Lee Yonish, David Gray, Mr. Emmons, Tom Pinneo, Cameron Gray, Luca Petrecca, Julian Chorney, Orlando Fuquen, and Stephanie Chorney. (Photo by Jennifer Lea Cohan)

Princeton moved one step closer to achieving Sustainable Jersey’s Silver Certification when the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education passed a Sustainability Resolution at its meeting last Tuesday, April 23.

The resolution provides points toward Princeton’s certification. The municipality is currently certified at the Bronze level.

To date, of the 383 municipalities registered with Sustainable Jersey, 113 are “certified.” Of those, 102 are at the Bronze level; only 11, at the Silver level.

Diane Landis, executive director of Sustainable Princeton, the group that was behind the initiative that brought the resolution to the School Board, hopes that by 2014, Princeton will be certified at the silver level.

“We need to begin a number of programs this year and have them in place by the time we apply for silver level next year,” says Ms. Landis “Sustainable Jersey’s criteria are quite stringent but I am confident that we will make it. We just take it one step at a time and we’ll get there. It’s like putting a quilt together, piece by piece.”

The School Board’s endorsement of the “Principles of Sustainability” resolution was a step in the right direction. It was presented to the Board by members of Sustainable Princeton’s Green Schools Coalition, a group of parents and other residents seeking to advance sustainability in the district.

The Coalition advocates for sustainable learning experiences for students, for professional development opportunities that have a sustainable focus for teachers and staff, and for energy efficiency and waste reduction.

The resolution, which states that the district will join in the municipality’s efforts, was based on a model developed by Sustainable Jersey and emphasizes the role of the school district in building a community that balances and integrates economic, social and ecological objectives to improve quality of life for its residents.

Stephanie Chorney and Karen Nathan, who co-chair the Green Schools Coalition, presented it to the board. Ms. Chorney is a pediatrician and president of the Parent Teacher Organization at Community Park, where her son is a student. A passionate recycler, she helped organize last year’s first ever recycling effort at Communiversity. She even followed the Public Works truck just to make sure the recycling was taken where it was meant to go.

The day before this year’s Communiversity, Ms. Chorney was in school at Community Park to mark Earth Day, Saturday, April 27. Besides a spring clean up, the event included the installation of a newly built chalkboard that will be used when teachers take their classes outdoors. Ms. Chorney donated the chalkboard, and Community Park parent Tom Pinneo, together with Andy Truesdell, donated the time and materials to build the enclosure. Community Park School garden includes a Colonial Herb Garden at the school with a newly installed bird house built by students at John Witherspoon Middle School.

“I am so happy that the resolution passed,” said Ms. Chorney after last week’s board meeting. “This is the culmination of much effort and it’s great to be a part of something that is teaching our kids how to be healthy and how to care for the environment.”

Under the resolution, the district would support and encourage: student participation in learning experiences dedicated to sustainability; possible examples of such learning experiences could include classroom work, school gardens, health and wellness programs, and field trips; professional development opportunities that will support educators in preparing students for a sustainable future; and sustainable practices related to energy efficiency, waste management, composting, recycling, and procurement and maintenance in Princeton Public Schools’ facilities.

Specific goals in the areas of energy and waste, and health and wellness, include: composting of organic waste; field trips and films to promote clean energy and waste reduction; school gardens and cafeterias as health/science engagement opportunities; tracking of energy efficiency improvements; green food service (e.g. local food, eliminate styrofoam); cost savings from waste reduction and energy efficiency; bicycling and walking campaigns.

“Sustainable Jersey is focused on municipalities and they want to see a connection between the local authority and what is being achieved,” says Ms. Landis, “It’s wonderful to have the support of Mayor Liz Lempert who really wants to see this for Princeton.”

According to Ms. Landis an upcoming agenda item will be to conduct a municipal fleet inventory and track the mileage and use for each vehicle. Later this spring, Sustainable Princeton will launch an energy program for residents. Sustainability includes a social justice component to make sure that municipalities serve their entire populations, so one other concern is for diversity on boards.

For more information, visit: www.sustainableprinceton.org.

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