National Awards for Going Green in Chattanooga

Jessica Hill

Communications and Projects Associate at Tennessee Charter School Center

Latest posts by Jessica Hill (see all)

ivyCurriculum at Ivy Academy empowers students to become stewards of the environment – of the state’s abundant natural forests, mountains and streams.

This unique focus on the environment has brought national recognition, with last year’s Green Ribbon award from the U.S. Department of Education and this year’s “Rookie of the Year” award for the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project. Ivy students shed light on how their work not only earned accolades, but brought fundamental change to their classrooms and communities.

Julia Tripp, tenth grade: After reviewing our school’s energy consumption habits, we discovered that March was the highest month for energy use! In an effort to reduce our energy consumption and raise awareness for energy conservation within our community, we selected March to launch a month-long Live Green Project. Our leadership class came up with an energy saving tip for every day in March, and each morning, teachers read them aloud in homeroom.

Tip of the Day board on full display!

We set up a booth in our school’s cafeteria providing general information on the project, offering along with handouts on alternative sources of energy and displaying tips and suggesting tools for reducing energy consumption. Our tools included faucet aerators that consume less water, outlet insulators that insulate buildings better and energy-efficient light bulbs (with information explaining the benefits of using them over traditional light bulbs). In order to get the community involved, we posted the “Tip of the Day” on our Facebook page and actively shared energy info to various organizations around town. As tips circulated, students began to turn off the water while lathering their hands with soap and began to turn out the lights when they left a room.

In conjunction with the Live Green Project, we planned an Eco-Green Week, during which we hosted guest speakers to discuss the importance and methods of conservation. Monday was Water Conservation Day: students wore shirts with water, aquatic life and other water-related motifs and attended an assembly with a guest speaker from TVA. Tuesday was Waste-Reduction Day: students wore re-used clothes (hand me downs, thrift store items etc.) and learned from guest speakers from Orange Grove Recycling Plant and a compost specialist. Wednesday was Blackout Day: students wore all black and attended school without any power! On Blackout Day, students ate sack lunches, attended most classes outside, and tried to use as little power as possible. Thursday was Local Market Day: students dressed like farmers and attended our on-campus market. Many parents, family and community members came out to see local animals and produce.

Water well painting for Water Conservation Day!

At the end of this project, we surveyed students on how much they enjoyed and learned during Live Green Month. Nine out of ten students said he or she enjoyed the Live Green Month, and most importantly, that he or she learned a significant amount about conservation. I, along with my classmates, am glad that we could bring together a community and ignite a desire to learn more about reducing waste, energy and water consumption.

Jessica Payneeleventh grade: Ivy Academy participated in the NEED Project this year by preparing a scrapbook that documented all our energy projects. One of our main projects, Live Green led by Julia Tripp, really took off in our school and in the community. We had more than 200 people participate in activities, and we had multiple experts visit our school to teach us even more about conservation.

Once our scrapbook was complete, we sent it off to Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. We were thrilled to receive a letter of congratulations on May 3, 2014, stating that we were selected as Tennessee’s senior Rookie of the Year. We are traveling to Washington in June to accept our awards. We hope to visit lots of museums and national monuments while there, and have even sent a letter to our congressman requesting a tour of the White House.

With the students at Ivy Academy, the world seems to be in good hands!

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