Bringing Project Green Challenge to the ISSC

This past October, Emma Willard School, St. Mark’s School, and Milton Academy participated in Project Green Challenge (often abbreviated as PGC). PGC is an annual month-long competition run by Turning Green, a student-run global NGO, and is open to all students and faculty members in high schools and colleges around the world. Once you signed up, PGC sent you a new challenge every day to complete (for example, eat something organic today). To complete the challenge, you had to take a photo (or submit some sort of proof) to the website: the more challenges you completed, the more points you accumulated. Each challenge had different levels of difficulty (green/greener/greenest) which garnered you various amounts of points; you chose which level you wanted to do for that day. If you completed a day’s challenge really well, the organisation would ship you a prize, and at the end of the month, the top ten finalists won a free trip to San Francisco to determine the final winner, who won up to twelve thousand dollars!

Every ISSC school who participated in PGC had one to three representatives that helped get the word out on their campuses. In September, the reps worked hard to make announcements, send emails, and host sign-up events to get kids to participate. St. Mark’s School even created a Snapchat platform to share challenges with and remind the students. Turning Green also sent free samples to each campus to incentivize students to sign up — these included goodies like Clif Bars, reusable straws, tea, soap, and more. Alexandra Culver-Witt, a senior at Emma Willard (and one of the representatives at her school for PGC), admitted that although “the free samples did play a role in students’ overall interest in PGC,” several students also “attested to PGC’s immense educational value.” Megan Pontin, another senior at Emma Willard and a PGC rep as well, expressed how excited students were “when they realized that they had a great capacity to create change through this project.” Faculty members at Emma Willard and Milton also voiced their approval for the challenge; one teacher at Milton even convinced her twelve-year-old to sign up, spreading awareness for environmental issues within the younger generation as well.

In total, approximately a hundred and fifty students got involved in PGC this year through the ISSC. During the month of October, every school continued to remind students and faculty to be actively conscious of the environment. At Emma Willard, the representatives discussed their student composting initiative, introduced Terracycle for Halloween candy wrappers, and tried to promote Ecosia, a search engine that plant trees across the world. Milton Academy hosted a “Gaia Night” activity near the end of the month with free succulents to inspire students to continue making the world a greener place, and St. Mark’s posted the PGC challenges on their social media platforms and promoted it over the course of October at school meetings. Lindsay Davis, a sophomore from St. Mark’s (and one of the PGC representatives for her campus), said that “this opportunity engaged the student body and sparked interest in environmentalism.”

Overall, Project Green Challenge was an engaging event that inspired students and faculty alike to change their habits for the better. Although it only lasted for a month, Lindsay hopes to “create more ways for students to get involved in and learn more about sustainability” as time goes on. Ariane Desrosiers, a senior at Milton and the PGC representative for her school, also found PGC “a wonderful gateway for ISSC members to make the switch to a more sustainable lifestyle. Students are now more aware of global environmental issues and can take steps to reduce their individual impact. Yay to making the world a better place!”

Huge thanks to the ISSC representatives who made this happen: Megan Pontin, Alexandra Culver-Witt, Nadio Sabo, Lindsay Davis, Kerrie Verbeek, and Ariane Desrosiers. Also, thank you to Turning Green for making this all happen! Learn more about PGC here:

Loomis Chaffee Features ISSC Work in Art Exhibition

by the Gaia Team

Note: some information taken from the Loomis Chaffee website.

This fall, Loomis Chaffee senior Kalina “Kiki” Szemraj set up an art gallery at her school, with funding from the Gilchrist Environmental Fellowship, an annual fund that students with sustainability-related projects in mind apply for. The exhibition, currently set up in a hallway of Loomis Chaffee’s Clark Center for Science & Mathematics, features artwork done by several students from different schools in the ISSC. Kiki named the gallery “Gaia” after the magazine and the Greek goddess of the earth. Kiki collected, framed, and hung the artwork herself.

Motivated by sustainability and ecological concerns, Kiki has been a leader of environmental programs and activities at her school since her freshman year. In addition to serving as an environmental proctor (e-proctor) and head e-proctor at Loomis Chaffee, Kiki has organized documentary screenings for the campus community, researched ways to bring energy-conserving technologies to Loomis, and participated in efforts to change people’s behaviours related to environmental conservation. Kiki plans to refresh the exhibition with new submissions in the spring.

Jeff Dyreson, Loomis Chaffee’s director of environmental/sustainability initiatives, commended Kiki, along with the other fellowship recipients, for their work and dedication, and he acknowledged their contributions to making Loomis a better place in the spirit of environmental stewardship and sustainability.

Gaia and ISSC artists are extremely excited to see their work featured at another school! 

Gaia’s First Issue of the 2018-2019 Year!

Hi everyone and welcome to a new school year!
We’re so excited to jumpstart all of our new sustainability endeavors (as I’m sure you all are too) here at the ISSC, one of them including our now one-year-old Gaia magazine! You all know the drill, but here’s the information on our November issue.

The submission deadline for this issue is November 11thand our new theme is…international policy! We have an opinion section, a news section, a lit section, and art section. You can write about the environmental policies of any country you want, as long as your article fits clearly within each section. As for artwork, there is no particular theme, so it is as easy as shooting over a photograph you want to show off.

We are also looking for Gaia reps for each school to help us find more writers and artists. If you are at all interested in writing an article, submitting art to us, becoming a Gaia rep, or connecting us to someone who is interested in helping out with Gaia, please email, or! From there, we’ll email you with more details.
Looking forward to a great new year!

Milton and the ISSC

The following is copied from Milton’s parent newsletter: Centre Connection. See original article here.


Student Green Initiatives

sustainability-webAt the end of the month, LORAX, a student environmental group co-headed by Ariane DesRosiers (I), Jenn Chen (I) and Margot Bancroft (I), are hosting Gaia Night, where they will screen documentaries and serve vegan ice cream and other treats. Gaia is an interscholastic magazine run by the Independent School Sustainability Coalition (ISSC). Both LORAX and the Student Sustainability Board are involved with ISSC.

Around 80 students and a few faculty members signed up for the Project Green Challenge, a competition organized by the nonprofit Turning Green. It’s open to high school and college students worldwide and runs for the month of October. Ariane is Milton’s campus representative and she explained that a new challenge is announced every day and participants have 24 hours to complete and submit to the Project Green website. Usually the challenge requires writing and/or relies on photo evidence that the participant completed the task. There are different levels to the challenges earning different number of points.

Ariane is also involved with the Garden Club, which she is co-heads along with Jenn. This fall the Garden Club, along with Milton’s Community Engagement Program, has been volunteering on weekends at Boston’s Urban Farm Institute. They also work in the Lower School garden and the raised beds by the ACC. Last week, greens harvested from the beds were donated to the Milton Food Pantry.

Gaia’s Third Issue Comes Out!

Hey everyone,

It’s been a while since we last published anything on the ISSC website, but believe us, Gaia, our online eco-magazine, has been busy!

Since October, we’ve published three issues and have another one coming up! This upcoming issue, our last one for this scholastic year, will be published in early May. Our theme: social movements in environmentalism.

Gaia takes everything from news articles, opinion pieces, creative writing, and photography/art. If you would like to submit (or you would like to forward this email to someone who you think would like to submit), please email/share your piece to either me (,, or You must be a member of an ISSC school to submit. Note: all art/photography submissions should come with a title; a short blurb is also encouraged but optional. News/opinion pieces with statistics/facts from the internet should be cited; ask us if you have any questions regarding the format of the citation.
Submissions for this issue are due midnight April 30th! If you would like to submit and need an extension, please let us know. 

See more here: Gaia

We can’t wait to share the final product with you all!

Gaia – Our New Online Ecomag!

Happy 2018! As we head into the new year, we thought we’d share one of the ISSC’s major projects with you: Gaia, an online ecomagazine that aims to educate our communities, express ourselves, and advocate for the earth with our words and art.

Open to every student part of an ISSC school, Gaia publishes every two months, with each issue focusing on a different theme. Our first two issues have been focused on green tech and political environmentalism.

We’re excited to continue publishing and sharing our ideas and concerns with the world in 2018. Keep up with us by subscribing to our twitter account!

See more here: Gaia

2017 Conference

From the Milton website.

Students Hold Independent School Sustainability Conference at Milton







The student-run Independent School Sustainability Coalition (ISSC) held its first one-day conference at Milton to discuss sustainability issues and exchange ideas and initiatives. The coalition was the idea of Ariane DesRosiers (III), who was inspired by the online literary publication The Tavern, a collaborative effort among independent school students. Pierce Wilson (III), Patrick Huang (II) Max Hui (II) and Jennifer Chen (III) also played roles in forming the ISSC, which is made up of 21 schools from all over New England. Seven schools attended the conference.

“When I’m working on sustainability issues at Milton, I sometimes feel like it’s always me and the same 15 students,” says Ariane. “I was happy to see so many other students who are working on and saying the same things I’m doing and saying. It was nice to hear these similar voices. I also loved learning what other schools are doing and different ways to get the community involved.”

Pierce was instrumental in arranging the keynote speaker, Chantelle Mendonsa, who works for the Center for Policy Advocacy at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Chantelle was involved in sustainability issues when she was at Brooks School, and at Syracuse University, she co-founded a student organization focused on the divestiture of fossil fuel investments from the school’s endowment,” says Pierce. “She spoke about the election, our new president and the administration’s view on climate change and environmentalism as a whole. And she talked about her experiences and how we can make change, even in high school.”

The rest of the conference consisted of two breakout sessions before the group came together and developed a detailed, two-year agenda with action items for the students to take back to their respective schools.

See full article here.

ISSC Schools

The ISSC schools work together to reduce our campus’ collective carbon footprint. Here are a list of the schools that are part of the ISSC network:

Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

Belmont Hill School

Bishop Guertin High School

Brooks School

Choate Rosemary Hall

Dana Hall School

Deerfield Academy

Governor’s Academy

Groton School

Hotchkiss School

Lawrence Academy

Loomis Chaffee School

Milton Academy

Nobles and Greenough School

Phillips Andover Academy

Phillips Exeter Academy

Roxbury Latin School

St. George’s School

St. Mark’s School

St. Paul’s School

Taft School

Thayer Academy