"A Magnificent Setting Inspires a Sustainable Campus"
School Contact Information
Ruth Glass, Administrator firstname.lastname@example.org Calmont School, Calabasas Combined (K-8), Independent Under 500 Students
The Green School Story
We addressed these 4 Pillars of a Green School
- Strive to be Toxics Free
- Use Resources Sustainably
- Create Green Schoolyards and Serve Healthy Food
- Teach Stewardship & Student Action
We have taken these steps from the 7 Steps to a Green School
- Adopt a policy
- Develop an action plan
- Integrate into the curriculum
- Monitor progress
- Involve, inform, and celebrate with the community
Environmental Challenge or Goal Addressed
Calmont School had been located in Topanga for 30 years. In 2008, the school purchased the Cottontail Ranch property in Calabasas from Pepperdine University. The property needed a lot of renovations and there was no money to do them, as every penny was spent on the down payment for the property. So families and staff got to work.
Our Green School Approach
Our commitment to the environment goes back a long way, to our beginnings. Students spend an hour every Friday going into the mountains and studying ecosystems and habitats. Over time we've learned about different environmental challenges in the area, and our students have become activists.
Some of the renovations to the new school site were done by families within each grade. For example, the school community came together and raised money (we had a garage sale) to renovate the second grade classroom, and found families and businesses to donate labor and materials. Once we had the materials, two moms acted as the Contractors and got down to renovating.
Construction and landscaping has been -- and will be -- done with earth-friendly materials and by recycling or reinventing materials. We used environmentally-friendly windows and paint, recycled carpet, green insulation in the roof and walls, Purekor (eco-particleboard) for the walls and LED lights. The product was amazing!
The biggest obstacle was that the cost of "greenovation" was far higher and more labor-intensive than renovating in the traditional way, but definitely worth it!
"The goal is to create a sustainable campus in every aspect of operation, from lunch items to class materials to water harvesting on the land," says Judy Chamberlain, our Head of School. "We hope to move away from a disposable economy and create a model others can learn from."
The move to Cottontail Ranch has enhanced and expanded the school's environmental studies program, which has long been a cornerstone of its curriculum.
Changes and Benefits We've Achieved
Projects have included protecting a nearby pond and looking out for local endangered species. In the school's latest endeavor, students have been using cutting methods to eradicate the invasive, clogging giant reed "Arundo donax".
Everyone at the school plays a part. Our environmental teachers, Jon and Ellen, head up our Green Team.
How We Involved Students
All students have responsibilities as part of keeping the school green. Food in the cafeteria is served on plates the children clear and prepare for washing.
We are able to utilize our property to teach the children about native plants, wildlife, and environmental protection in a hands-on manner. Students have done a lot of native planting around the campus, and they also built solar shades for the Middle School History cabin/classroom.
Our 6th graders were invited to help develop solutions that will be adapted into the continuing renovation process. It was a great learning opportunity and a wonderful interaction developed between professional landscape architects and our students. The 6th graders researched, planned and built models demonstrating innovative solutions and ideas for how to take advantage of the unique watershed situation at the new campus.
Our Inspiration and Motivation
Environmental awareness has been a mission of the school for over 30 years. Now that more press has been given to issues of environmental sensitivity, we feel blessed to continue with our mission and goals of sustainability.
The kindergartners are going to lead a composting program created from lunch scraps. Middle-schoolers will plant the organic garden at the new campus. We are also considering undertaking an environmental audit to measure the school's carbon footprint.
We are currently exploring grant opportunities to fund future projects.