School Bus

For the last three and half months, students of all ages, from Kindergarten to Grade 12, from across North America have been busy planning and strategizing on behalf of their school. What could possibly motivate kids to stay inside and work versus hitting the park in the warm Spring weather? The opportunity to win over $200,000 in prizes that’s what!

IC Bus has sponsored two contests in 2010: “America’s Greenest School” and “Canada’s Greenest School”. This is the second year the contest has been run in the U.S and the first year in Canada. The winning school will receive a hybrid school bus from IC Bus, the nation’s largest school bus manufacturer. Each hybrid school bus can increase the fuel efficiency of standard school buses by up to 65 percent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40 percent. The hybrid bus has an estimated retail value of $150,000. The school will also receive a green audit of their school from a LEED Accredited Professional and approximately $20,000 for their school to use toward additional green improvements to the school. The student or students who submitted the winning entry will win or share a $3,000 scholarship. *Similar prizes are available for the Canada contest.

In 2009, 760 schools entered the contest in the U.S., where applicants were asked to submit a 500 word essay describing what makes their school “green.” The 2009 winner of the U.S. contest was Irvington High School who reduced their energy consumption by 33% since 2006 and takes part in a food scrap recycling program.

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2010 saw an increase in the entries for the American contest where the call for entries was from January 18th to March 8, with 1,600 students participating. This year, students entries could be in the form of a photo collection, music, a video, an essay, or photos of a diorama, collage or piece of artwork. Participants were asked to submit an entry explaining what they would do if they were in charge of making their school a greener, more eco-friendly place. Entries submitted must tell the world how they’d make their school experience the greenest in the country.

The last two weeks were set aside for judging all the entries. Entries were judged on creativity and how well they embraced the spirit of their school’s commitment to the environment. The ten finalist entries include seven videos, two songs and an essay. And the nominees are (in no particular order):

  • Clarkstown High School North — New City, N.Y.
  • Congers Elementary School — Congers, N.Y.
  • Farnsley Middle School — Louisville, Ky.
  • Harvard-Westlake School — Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Kathleen E. Goodwin Elementary School/Old Saybrook Middle School — Old Saybrook, Conn.
  • Plummer Motz School – Falmouth, Maine
  • South Shore Charter Public School – Norwell, Mass.
  • Stivers School for the Arts – Dayton, Ohio
  • Talbert Middle School – Beach, Calif.
  • Walnut Elementary Education Center – Turlock, Calif.

Since the website posted the winners at 9am EST on March 22nd over 13,000 votes have been cast! Check out the finalist submissions by visiting America’s Greenest School’s Official website.

This opportunity is so powerful as it gives a new generation a voice to make change happen. Students view their school from a perspective that administrators, teachers and parents are not always privy to. They will see areas of opportunity to turn things green or see where things can be more efficient because they are the ones who are the front lines. We are starting to bring up a generation where being eco-conscious is a part of daily life. It is not a conscious decision for them to be green, they do not have to adjust their behavior or break old habits like their parent, but rather they just are green. They don’t think about having to recycle, they just expect that it is what you do- it is just how things are. What is amazing about this contest is it opens up a doorway to an untapped resource of ideas that the current generation of administrators, teachers and parents may not have thought of in the past. It also enrolls students who may not think about being eco, showing them that they can start at any time and their fellow classmates can support them.

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“All of the students who entered should be proud of their commitment to the environment,” said Summer Sanders, an Olympic gold medalist who helped kick off the campaign. “Going green can start at home, but also plays an important role at school. America can vote for the school they think is most deserving of the title – maybe even before they turn off their computers for Earth Hour.”

Back to the contest, it is now up to us, Joe Public, to decide who the winner will be of America’s Greenest School Contest. Yup, we get to log on and vote on which finalist should receive the award, that will be announced during Earth Week (week of April 21st). So click here and get voting!

The Canadian contest is still open for entries till April 5th and finalist will be announced on April 22nd. Stay tuned for updates on this amazing initiative!

Sue is a mom of two little girls and has a passion for finding things that will bring more fun to the everyday. Making the choice to be as eco-friendly as possible, this gal knows that eco does not mean sacrificing your personal style.

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