Visitors swinging by Neighborhood Christian Center marvel at the lush organic vegetable and fruit garden, the lively chicken coop, and the shaded amphitheater for outdoor learning. With such amenities offered to its young learners, it’s no surprise that NCC is the first educational program in Santa Clara to earn the Green Business Certification. To help other learning institutions learn about being environmentally conscious, the school hosted the Green School Forum on September 14.
“We want to show school directors how to save money and be environmental by going green,” says Graciela Marques-Hahn, executive director of the school. “I want to educate teachers because I believe the future of the world lies in the [children] of today. We want to bring in preschool teachers and directors who are budget conscious, and that’s why this event is free.”
Lisa Rose, a representative from Santa Clara County’s Agriculture & Environment Management Department, gave an enriching keynote presentation with a slide show.
“There have been some studies that say having natural daylight in the classroom makes kids more productive, and it reduces student and teacher absences,” says Rose, tossing out tips with each new slide on the screen. “You can grow a garden that attracts good beneficial bugs, like butterflies, dragonflies, and ladybugs.”
Rose mentioned that the Santa Clara Valley Water District can trade out toilets that consume too much water for free at eligible schools, and energy providers can perform energy audits at schools, also for free. Rose recommended an organization named TerraCycle that pays schools for its recyclable items.
Other knowledgeable presenters included a master gardener, an environmental architect, students from the Acterra-award winning The Athenian School, students from the green certified Los Altos High School, and representatives from Prospect Sierra, the City of Cupertino, and the Santa Clara City Library.
Andrew Lucia, principal of Westwood Elementary School, was one of the estimated 60 attendees at the Green School Forum. He attended the workshop given by the students at Los Altos High School.
“The green certification program allowed the presenting students to learn about how a system works and how to be agents of change,” Lucia says. “[Coming to this forum], I was able to talk to other like-minded folks looking for more eco-friendly approaches to doing things in their schools.”