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Our First Year - Project Footprint
By Liba Zweigbaum Herman, Project Footprint Coordinator
At the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, Heilicher started a new sustainability initiative called Project Footprint. The mission of Project Footprint is:
To empower students, families and staff at Heilicher to enhance their environmental awareness, their personal connection to nature; promote self-stewardship and curiosity to become strong advocates for their communities.
Over the course of the year we were busy implementing several changes to school practices. Here are some of our program highlights:
- We implemented new “waste right” receptacles throughout the school. A container designated for recycling, compost, and garbage.
- Now 90% of our school waste is used for organic mulching or recycled.
- Hennepin County and The Mulch Store delivered free compost for Heilicher families to take home.
- Heilicher Fall & Spring Gardening Kita (club) for grades 1-5 continued. Helping to tend the JCC Community Garden, growing our own herbs and gaining greener thumbs all year round!
- Sixth graders conducted a waste audit of our school's wasting efficiency.
- As part of the Seventh Grade Leadership Retreat students helped clean up Cedar Lake Road.
- We held our first Green Team Meeting bringing together Heilicher families who have a passion for environmentalism. We met to discuss how we can continue to improve the school's green initiatives.
- As research shows that live plants in the classroom aid in overall productivity and well-being, live plants were placed in most classrooms.
Heilicher parent, Judy L. had this to say about Project Footprint: "I see composting as a physical form of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world). The waste stream in our developed world is polluting our planet. Along with recycling, composting helps us learn what we use that can’t go into either stream and look for alternative products. We can all aspire to a zero-trash world. I like that our school reflects what we do at home."
While we accomplished a lot in our first year, we still have more work to do.
Here is what's coming:
- Attractive, new "waste right" stations for the Dining Room.
- A Project Footprint news board to communicate to Heilicher families what is new and how they can get involved.
- More involvement in the community garden and outdoor wilderness spaces.
- A recycling/compost facility field trip for students to see the entire process and see why proper recycling matters.
We are looking forward to all that is to come in making our community more ecologically responsible and respectful. Learn more about Project Footprint on the blog.
After graduation, Heilicher alumna Simone P. encountered an uncomfortable situation at basketball camp. She decided to take a brave step to educate the camp about Jewish history related to an unintentional, yet offensive, long-standing camp practice.
New this year, on Monday mornings, we will have an All-School T’filah (prayer) service in the Dolly and Edward Fiterman Theatre. Our students will chant Torah each week. We’ll celebrate birthdays and milestones. And we’ll have a place to pray, whether that means working on our character, connecting with God, reflecting and/or rejoicing.
As a gift to her eighth-grade class for graduation, Ms. Weiss gathered student reflections and crafted them into a poem. These words of inspiration will stay with her students for years to come.