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: projectgreenchallenge.com.

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!