Como's Environmental Club
Como has had an extremely unique Environmental Club. It has always been student run and the topics and projects have been chosen by the students to raise awareness for environmental issues and to reduce our schools carbon footprint. We meet Wednesdays after school in room 1219.
Advisor: Kathy Kahn
Phone: (651)-293-8800 x45424
Some of the activities have included:
TREES - We purchased 5 Basswood (Linden) trees and planted them on the west side of the school in 1992. Our group was called "The Greening of Como." We studied energy conservation and decided that shade trees would make that side of the building cooler in the afternoon. They have survived damage due to two construction projects. Despite not getting extra watering or care, they are doing fine and they are HUGE! And they sure do shade the building.
Later, in partnership with the district grounds department, the students planted 20 Pin Oaks. Due to ground contamination and maybe lack of water, only a few are still living.
RECYCLING - Later, we turned our attention to recycling. The school, in fact the district, had absolutely no recycling program. There was canned soda pop for sale in the buildings and thousands of cans each week went into the landfills. We obtained and placed the containers, collected them and rinsed and bagged the cans which were turned in for a little money. We used the money for future environmental projects. A teacher would take the plastic and glass to recycle at home. Since that time, the district and school has caught on to the need for recycling. When this group stopped, the school went back to throwing away recyclables. Now, each class has a recycling bin. Starting in 2006, once a week, the Environmental Science class collects the classroom recycling. Batteries still go home with a teacher. We still have a long ways to go to be responsible recyclers, but with the district, school, and commited people working together, we will improve.
ENERGY CONSERVATION - A new group of determined students in 2004 restarted environmental efforts at the school. Larissa Sage and Dan Worku started a group the members called GREEN EYES. Mugs were made that had our message "try to see the world through green eyes", encouraging people to help the earth whenever they could. These mugs are used in meetings instead of disposables. They started ENERGY WARS, and challenged other St. Paul High Schools to cut down their energy usage. They measured the phantom charges that were used even when the item was off, but still plugged in. They put power strips in many of the rooms so teachers could cut the flow of electricity to computers and televisions and such. They made personalized beautiful switchplate covers, reminding folks to turn off the lights. They institutied HALF LIGHT HUMP DAY, asking everyone to turn off half of their lights on Wednesday if they could. Dan Worku, Amelia Kahn, and Sergio Portesan wrote a grant for "Schools Cutting Carbon" projects. They were awarded the funds, but due to red tape and lack of communication, they never received the money for the project. They went on to other things.
FOCUS THE NATION - In 2008, Como Park High School became a part of a nationwide push to increase awareness about the environment call Focus the Nation. We partnered with Macalester University and put together a conference and later a teach-in. We have been doing a Focus the Nation teach-in every year since then. Many of the founders of that program, our partners at Macalester, and others have moved on and the new management has no idea that Como is still doing this. We have had notables such as Wil Steger, Larry Wackett, Pete Grebner, and Chong Thao on the programs. Each year there is a theme. 2013 theme was the E's of Environment: Education, Economics, Energy, Empowerment. Hannah Stadler did a great job facilitating it. There has been no Focus the Nation in recent years.
OTHER - We partnered with YEA Minnesota (Youth Environmental Action) for a while, but students got tired of going to meetings. They wanted more action. Como students have twice presented at the NORTHLAND BIONEERS CONFERENCE, expounding about the possibilities and pitfalls of environmental actiion in an inner city public school.
2014 - A new group of students has reformed the Environmental Club in new directions. The main goal is to decrease the school's carbon footprint by eliminating water bottles. Como has three water bottle vending machines now, and we'd like to decrease that by installing water bottle filling stations. They raised funds by selling tickets for "Pie in the Face Teacher". The student council and wellness committee are helping with this project too.