It’s been said that it ain’t easy being green, but that didn’t deter the students at Tukes Valley Middle School. After earning a Bronze Level certification from Washington Green Schools just last year for its school grounds and gardens project, the Green Team at Tukes Valley quickly rose through the ranks, earning two additional certifications for its efforts over the past year.
The Tukes Valley Green Team received a Silver Level certification in Waste and Recycling for its plastic bag collection efforts and Gold Level certification in Water for work the students did on the creek near the school. More than 30 students participated in Green Team projects and activities over the past year.
“It’s quite impressive for a club that's just two years old to have already achieved Gold Level status,” said Natalie Keller, a 7th grade science teacher at Tukes Valley and the Green Team’s staff leader. “The Green Team provides students with the ability to make a real, powerful difference in the school and community. That difference will be influential for years to come, long after the students have graduated from the school itself.”
The school celebrated its newest green achievements during the first school-wide assembly of the year, during which Clark County Green Schools Environmental Outreach Specialist Michelle Picinich presented the Green Team with its Silver and Gold Level certificates.
As part of its Waste and Recycling certification, the Tukes Valley Green Team collected plastic bags and film for the Trex Company Challenge. The team was commended for its education efforts to keep plastic bags out of curbside recycling bins. Plastic bags can clog recycling sorting machines, resulting in costly breakdowns.
Now that the Green Team is certified in three environmental categories and Tukes Valley is a Gold Level school as a result, the Green Team will need to get certified in the remaining three Washington Green Schools categories if it is to achieve the highest Platinum Level designation. The remaining categories are Energy, Healthy School Buildings, and Transportation.
“I will never forget a comment one student made the first year Tukes' Green Team began,” Keller said. “The student looked over the nature trail and said, ‘One day, when I'm a dad and my kids go here, I'm going to point at the nature trail and tell them I did that!’ The changes the students make in our community and the pride it gives the students is the true accomplishment of the Green Team.”
Battle Ground Public Schools is proud of Tukes Valley for progressing through the Green School designations and encourages other schools in the district to seek their own certifications.