Elgin Area School District U-46 will cap off yearlong sustainability efforts to increase recycling and reduce its carbon footprint with Earth Day activities this weekend.
Larsen Middle School in Elgin is inviting community members to help plant trees at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Kenyon Farm Forest Preserve, 8N700 Barry Road, South Elgin. Students, staff members and families will plant hundreds of oak trees along with cutting and clearing brush.
Ellis Middle School's Science Nature Environmental-Recycling Defender-Squad (N.E.R.D.S.) will wrap 350 blue spruce, poplar and red oak tree seedlings at 3:45 p.m. Thursday at the Elgin school. The trees will be passed out to students, families and neighbors to plant. Seedlings also will be planted in Elgin's Trillium Park, 319 Illinois Ave. The N.E.R.D.S. will plant native wildflowers and spread wood chips along the park trail.
This school year, the district has recycled more than 400,000 pounds of paper, more than 25,000 pounds of books, installed 30 water bottle filling stations at 17 district sites, and is installing water saving aerators and LED exit signs to save electricity.
The water bottle filling stations have helped divert roughly 260,000 plastic bottles from landfills while allowing students and faculty to refill their reusable bottles with filtered water, officials said.
U-46 also recently retrofitted existing water fountains with filtration kits to improve water quality.
"I'm proud of all the ways we teach students about conservation but even more impressed with the many ways we strive to model good environmental practices for our students," CEO Tony Sanders said. "We have made some great strides in recent years and I expect those efforts will only continue as we all work to take care of our small spot on this planet."
Examples of efforts at schools include fourth-graders at Elgin's Highland Elementary School posting signs in the cafeteria to remind students of what can and cannot be recycled. Students and staff members also provide conservation tips during morning announcements and maintain a school bulletin board about the importance of reducing electricity usage.
Gifted students at Glenbrook Elementary School in Streamwood led a yearlong recycling and composting project training staff and students on how to effectively implement those practices daily at school. They shared information in a recycling and composting newsletter for staff members and another version for parents and students.
Environmental science classes at Bartlett High School recycle Fridays during first, second and fourth periods. The students travel to classrooms and offices to sort recyclables, then take the items after inspection to the recycling container.
Other schools conducted Earth Day activities Friday, while Larkin High School's Environmental Club cleaned a 1.25-mile stretch of Randall Road earlier this year.