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Number of Michigan Schools 'Going Green' Skyrockets

May 10, 2010

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan's schools are eagerly taking up a challenge to be more environmentally friendly. The Michigan Green Schools program designates schools as "green" once students have implemented specific changes and initiatives. During the first four years of the program, the number of schools participating has grown from a handful the first year to more than 550 schools in 74 counties.

Kristine Moffet, president of the Green Schools Foundation, says each school chooses up to 20 initiatives that help conserve energy and improve the environment.

"We're only one of several states in the whole country that have something like this. These things really help save the schools money, so there are a lot of different activities. And you can approach with a broad sweep or a narrow one, for just 10 points, which is what you need to qualify."

Projects range from recycling paper, ink, crayons and batteries to planting native species and water conservation measures.

Webber Elementary in Lake Orion is one of the latest schools to receive green designation. Principal Sarah Manzo says the projects started with a "Green Living Club" and expanded to the entire student body of 500.

"These kids are taking the message out and spreading the word. At home, we often hear 'You shouldn't run that water while you're brushing your teeth,' and we have kids who are telling their parents they have to recycle now. It's also the power of an initiative - the power of a goal - and to be able as a team to see the long-term effects."

Moffett says support from Michigan Education Association members is a key to the program's success.

Amy Miller/Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MI