Pleasant Hill Elementary is a Green Step School. PHES has several ongoing school-wide projects taking place in each of three categories: Conserve, Protect, and Restore. For each of the activities described below, it is clear that our students are at the very center of all of the learning and doing. Also, there are many opportunities for students to teach others. For example, the students use the information about recycling to measure and graph the quantities collected and to make presentations in class about their findings. In non-COVID times, they also teach our school community on a grand scale.
1. Recycle: Teachers collect recyclable paper, aluminum, and plastics in bins in their classrooms. Once these bins are full, students dump the paper into central containers placed around the school. Our recycling company then picks it up.
2. Reuse: - Making Plarn: Students make plastic yarn out of donated grocery bags. We deliver balls of plastic yarn (plarn) to the Columbia Art Center for them to make bedrolls out of plastic bags for homeless people. This will resume when Covid protocols are lifted.
3. Reuse: Our school participates in the “Shoes for Water” project all-year round. This is a program started by a pastor in Greenville, South Carolina. In the PHES commons area, we have a large collection box where students, teachers, staff and community members can drop off shoes, old and new. The shoes are picked up, packed up, and sent to Kenya. Members of the church in that country sell the shoes. The money collected is used to build wells for clean drinking water.
1. Plants: We know that plants can help to protect our air. Our Green Team has directed the students in placing a ZZ plant in each classroom and office space. Students were directly involved in the propagating of a few ZZ plants into many, many more. Students also take care of the plants in their classrooms and keep them watered. We also have many other plants around the school that the children take care of.
2. Rain Gauge: Students keep track of rainfall totals using a simple rain gauge that is outside of a teacher's classroom.
1. Outdoor composting: Using composted material helps to enrich and restore the earth’s soil. Our Green Team purchased a large composting barrel a few years ago, and it is placed in a central area outside. Teachers regularly drop off grass clippings there. Students place apple cores and banana peels into the composter. Then students make sure that the barrel is consistently rotated. The composted material will be ideal for enhancing the soil used by students in our school’s garden beds.
2. Indoor Vermicomposting: A teacher volunteer maintains a Styrofoam cooler in her classroom with thin strips of moistened newspaper and occasional fruit pieces. A small batch of vermi busily transforms these materials into soil. The children observe and monitor the growth of the soil.
3. School Garden: Students learn about gardening in our raised garden beds in the back of the school and front of the school. They planted many edible plants in the early fall. The students water and care for the plants, and ultimately harvest the vegetables.
Garden bed in the front of our school: