Boston Latin School changes for environment
BOSTON -- Young men and women of the Boston Latin School kept the spirit of America alive by being old-school and cutting edge all at the same time.
Boston Latin School is America's oldest public school, educating students for 375 years.
Its famed alumni include Founding Fathers John Hancock, Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin.
The school has created a new generation of leaders, teenagers who are changing the way we treat the environment.
The school has a Youth Climate Action Network (Youth CAN) one of the most popular clubs on campus.
"The first meeting, I had 90 kids show up. And I thought ‘I'm going to need some help,” said Cate Arnold, 8th grade history teacher.
After Arnold showed her class, An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary about climate change, her students were immediately inspired to act.
“Climate change is a really urgent issue that we all need to really be aware of, and combat in our daily lives,” said student Rebecca Park.
The students first commissioned an energy audit of the school, and were appalled by the low score. So, they committed themselves to making their building more eco-friendly by introducing recycling in the cafeteria, and installing energy-efficient fluorescent lights in the auditorium.
Their most ambitious plan was to transform the school's roof into a state-of-the art green learning center.
The design called for wind turbines, solar panels, vegetation to absorb run-off and a greenhouse to grow food for the cafeteria.
The students selected architect Gail Sullivan, a parent at the school, because Sullivan insisted the students be an integral part of the design process.
The students have already persuaded five colleges in the area to follow suit with the goal to significantly reduce Boston's carbon footprint.
Scientific data collected from the roof will be downloaded and studied by students at other schools.
The project's estimated price tag was $5 million, with most of the fundraising being done by Youth CAN students who actively courted school alumni, city officials and private industries.
They worked with teachers to create a sustainability curriculum with hopes other schools would follow their lead.
Cate Arnold said, the lessons her students have learned aren't just about climate change and the environment.
"They're learning how to organize and be leaders. It's given them the belief that they can do things that make a real difference," said Arnold.
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