Taking the 'Green' Initiative

Early into the new school year, a small but growing group of students who are part of Green Initiative, a club at St. Michael’s College School (SMCS), plan to lend their voices to a mighty movement.

“They want to show solidarity with the Fridays for Future movement and unite with youth all over the world asking political leaders to take action to reduce the impact of climate change,” says Annelise Beaton Smith, chemistry teacher and co-moderator of Green Initiative.

SMCS Students' Entrance arch surrounded by trees

“Students at SMCS are concerned about the future of the planet and how climate change will impact them,” she says.


SMCS will commemorate ‘Green Day for Environmental Stewardship/Climate Change’ on Thursday, September 26 by wearing green, joining the global chorus led by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist.

“Ms. Thunberg is capable of providing all youth, including SMCS students, with examples of how to be good stewards of God, protecting the wonderful gift that was given to us to share - not manipulate, abuse, or destroy.” says Cory Lance, a geography and religion teacher at SMCS, and co-moderator of Green Initiative.

“She is currently providing the Green Initiative new hope that, even on a local level, SMCS students can be part of the conversation and change,” he says.


Lance says the club has worked diligently to make an impact --- yielding results that are visible in the school.

“I am most proud of the Green Initiative for being the catalyst of the changing of our school water fountains,” he says. “The Green Initiative began going to our Admin asking for the fountains to be changed to water bottle refill stations. They sourced out money from our Parent’s Association for the first station and Admin followed suit, replacing most of the remaining water fountains to refill stations.”

One of the water bottle refill stations in the hall of SMCS

It didn’t end there. 

“They then had a campaign to educate the student body on the advantages of using their own water bottle instead of buying bottled water. Though this is becoming common practice in most buildings in Ontario, at SMCS, it was spearheaded by students of the Green Initiative,” he says.


And there are more ideas percolating for this academic year, including a weekly or monthly green challenge involving the entire student body, efforts to recycle markers and pens at local recycling stations, and embed green thinking into academics too.
“As you know, SMCS is a Deep Learning school,” says Beaton Smith. “This is an opportunity for students to leverage the six C's (character, citizenship, collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking) and with the support of their teachers, come up with new solutions to the climate crisis.”

The front gardens of St. Michael's College School

This summer, the school converted all lighting on campus to LED fixtures. Solar panels are also being discussed as a potential future option.

Early into the school year, the Green Initiative is comprised of six students from grades 9, 10 and 12. That number is expected to grow.

“What they do at SMCS now can have an impact on our local community and the world,” adds Beaton Smith. “They may be young but their voices matter and the world is listening to them.”

Students and staff at St. Michael’s College School will mark Green Day for Environmental Stewardship/Climate Change on Thursday, September 26, 2019, by wearing green.