Wellness and Sustainability Council » February 2020 - Sustainability Newsletter

February 2020 - Sustainability Newsletter

The Wellness & Sustainability Council has accomplished a great deal to promote
wellness and sustainability initiatives in the school over the past year. The committee,
comprised of representatives from Cranbury School faculty, food service staff, facilities,
Cranbury Township Environmental Commission, and student and parent volunteers meet 
throughout the year to brainstorm ideas, research future projects, and discuss goals and
challenges toward becoming more sustainable.
 
Specific highlights of wellness and sustainability initiatives include:

● Wellness & Sustainability Newsletter -- To keep the school community informed
about the sustainability initiatives, the council posts a newsletter on the school
website numerous times a year. Over the past year, the newsletter has focused
on food waste/packing a zero waste lunch, indoor and outdoor activities to enjoy
autumn, celebrating the spring equinox, celebrating Earth Day, the aquaponics
system, gratitude, and wellness and sustainability efforts within the school.

● Pomptonian Food Service -- The school switched to a new catering company
beginning in the 2019-2020 school year. Pomptonian Food Service is a family-
owned company providing high-quality food to schools in New Jersey for over 60
years. They are committed to being a good steward to the environment, which is
evidenced in the use of recycled paper napkins and straws, compostable lunch
trays and parfait cups, the phasing out of Styrofoam products, and recycling
cans, boxes, and plastics. Pomptonian is also focused on purchasing local
produce. In October, the school cafeteria used local Honey Crisp apples and
sugar pumpkins. In November, the cafeteria incorporated local cranberries and
cauliflower into the school lunches. In December, the school community enjoyed
local McIntosh apples and butternut squash. In January, the cafeteria used Asian
pears and purple potatoes from local farms.

● Aquaponics -- The new aquaponics system was installed after a generous
donation from the Cranbury Education Foundation. The new system includes a
600-gallon fish tank, which is home to 20 Koi fish. Students have an opportunity
to view the fish that play an integral role in the symbiotic relationship of
aquaponics. The system produces vegetables and micro-greens and is 100
percent student managed! Integrating aquaponics into the school’s curriculum
has allowed both hands-on STEAM instruction and an extension beyond the
classroom to a broader discussion of sustainability. As the world population
soars, oceans are overfished and farmland is depleted, innovative solutions are
needed more than ever. Students have taken personal interest in food desert
programs, water sustainability, and food waste around the US, as well as,
problem solving global food problems.

● Garden Club – In May 2018, Cranbury School was awarded a $2,000
Sustainable Jersey for Schools capacity-building grant funded by the PSE&G
Foundation. The grant will allow Cranbury School to further expand the
Aquaponics program beyond the regular school day. The aquaponics program, a
project-based experience embedded during the school day, during which
students become environmental stewards by connecting with their peers around
the world and exploring a variety of ecosystems as well as gaining a deep
understanding of food deserts where fresh produce is difficult to grow. The
Garden Club is an extracurricular, full year service-learning club that is open to
all 3rd through 5th grade students. The Garden Club offers students the
opportunity to harvest crops after school hours and become active donors to our
local food bank, helping children and families in need.

● Health and Wellness Fair -- The 2019 Health & Wellness Fair was held on
Saturday, May 18. The fair included over 35 activities and stations promoting
healthy eating, physical activity, and positive lifestyle habits. Students, parents,
and community members participated in fitness activities offered by local fitness
centers, sampled foods from local farms, bird watched and hiked the natural
areas near the school, learned about fire safety, and gathered information about
the importance of mental health.

● Recycling Initiatives – Cranbury School collects paper, cans, plastics, and
cardboard throughout the school for recycling. Additionally, Cranbury School is
participating in Crayola ColorCycle, an initiative across North America in which
students in K-12 schools collect and repurpose used Crayola markers. Cranbury
School also recycles laser cartridges, inkjet cartridges, cell phones, and small
electronics. Parents are also encouraged to participate in these programs by
collecting used markers and laser and inkjet cartridges at home and sending
them to the school for recycling. The Student Council continues to gather Little
Bites wrappers for the TerraCycle recycling program.

● Future Chefs -- Each spring, first through fifth grade students are invited to
participate in the “Future Chef Competition.” The event invites students to get
excited about learning to create and maintain healthy eating habits by developing
their own recipe and, with the aid of an adult, prepare it for a panel of judges.

● Wingman -- Dylan’s Wings of Change is a foundation established to honor the
memory of Dylan Hockley, who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The Wingman leadership program inspires children to go above and beyond to
create inclusive environments in their school. It promotes empathy and
compassion. Wingman is a unique youth-led social and emotional learning
program designed to embed lasting positive qualities in participants, building
stronger and more resilient communities. For a second year, Cranbury School is
participating in the Wingman Program. Twenty-two middle school students
participated in two full days of training by experts from the program.

● Asthma-friendly school -- Cranbury School continues its efforts to be an asthma-
friendly school. A school is more asthma friendly when all staff work together to
provide a safe and healthy school environment to reduce asthma triggers
throughout the school. The new school nurse, Jillian Brophy, completed the
necessary asthma treatment plan training. Additionally, all staff participated in a
professional development training to learn the steps each can take to promote a
clean and healthy learning environment.

● Sustainability education in the classroom -- Teachers across the school are
integrating sustainability into their lessons. The lessons employ effective
methods to engage students and assess student learning of sustainability core
principles. Education for sustainability is much more than teaching content-
related knowledge and skills; it is also about teaching new ways of thinking about
and perceiving the realities of our world and the possibilities for change.
Education for sustainability prepares students for their roles in creating a
sustainable future by engaging them in solutions-based design and action that
integrates knowledge across different disciplines and that considers diverse
social, economic, and cultural perspectives. In Cranbury School, students are
learning about the importance and benefits of composting food waste, climate
and ecosystems, water quality, availability, and use.
 
Goals for the future:

● Work to update and enhance our District Sustainability Policy and have it
adopted by the Board of Education.
● Increase our purchase and use of 30% post-consumer recycled content paper in
the school.
● Develop a green challenge opportunity for the students.
● Support current sustainability initiatives.