Education and the Earth: DGS’ relationship with sustainability

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Sydney Richardson

DGS’ current efforts towards environmental sustainability show room for improvement.

This past summer produced the hottest month on record in July as well as extreme weather patterns such as the tornadoes that tore through the Chicago suburbs in June. As global temperatures rise, the frequency of natural disasters and levels of pollution do as well.

More people are expressing their opinion about the importance of the school making an effort to invest in sustainable practices.

DGS does already take environmentally conscious actions. These include recycling, exclusively using Green Seal certified cleaning products and energy conservation using boilers and LED light bulbs.

In 2016, District 99 funded the installation of solar panels at DGS with a $7,000 grant from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Building and Grounds Supervisor Michael Reyes provided details about the contribution of the solar panels.

“That grant was to provide funding for a total of a thousand Watts or one Kilowatt,” Reyes said.

While he does not consider the power generated by the solar panels to be substantial, science teacher and Earth Action Club sponsor Jamie Workman still believes in their meaning.

“The amount of electricity that they generate is insignificant relative to what we use. It’s substantial in that it sends a message that this could be a way that this building and other buildings could be more sustainable,” Workman said.

The global battle against climate change is dominated by the younger generation and it is no different at DGS. Some students have expressed their intention to advocate for improvements to environmentally friendly practices in the school community. Among them is sophomore Maya Homberg.

“This year in Earth Action Club, we are working on getting solar panels for the school and electric charging ports in the parking lots. By adding these changes to our school, the school board will be showing students that [the environment] is really important,” Homberg said.

Junior Maggie Stanley shares a similar belief about the school’s influence. “I think it’s really important for us and future generations to have a good place to live and I think that it’s very easy for us to start that initiative now. I think doing small things that high school students are capable of could really help us” Stanley said. “I think that if our district got on board with making more sustainable choices, we could get multiple districts on board and that would be a lot of people making more change.”

As the threat of climate change becomes more imminent and solutions are more crucial, Workman explained why he believes the school’s participation in climate justice is important.

“The whole idea is that schools are supposed to be centers where we help people learn how to be better people, right? More educated, more thoughtful, more responsible, more engaged. And there’s a responsibility that I think we have to the community and to a larger extent, the world, to keep our planet inhabitable,” Workman said.

With the looming threat of climate change, DGS students and staff have hope that the school contains opportunities for sustainable improvements that could result in a more promising future.