Schools from 34 King County cities and unincorporated areas – including two in Kent – are reducing waste and recycling, conserving energy and other resources, and cutting costs with help from the King County Green Schools Program.

The program provides hands-on help, guidance for Green Teams, and the tools schools need, such as information, indoor recycling bins, and a variety of conservation signs, to make improvements.

Kent schools honored by the program include:

    • Lake Youngs Elementary School
    • Park Orchard Elementary School

Here’s more info from the announcement:

“This spring we are recognizing 89 schools and two school districts for their conservation practices,” said Pat D. McLaughlin, director of the King County Solid Waste Division. “By providing this hands-on program, King County is laying the foundation for a lifetime of resource conservation by students and their families as well as by school and district employees.”

The program has served a growing number of schools each year – from 70 schools in 2008 to 306 schools as of this spring, totaling 62 percent of the K-12 schools in King County outside the City of Seattle. More than 188,000 students in those 306 schools have had opportunities to learn about conservation and engage in conservation practices through the program. In addition, 14 school districts have received assistance from the program.

Of the 306 schools that have participated in the program, 269 schools have been recognized as Level One King County Green Schools for their waste reduction and recycling practices. The program also has recognized 160 schools for Level Two energy conservation practices, 125 schools for Level Three water conservation and pollution prevention practices, and 76 schools as Sustaining Green Schools for maintaining and building on their Level One through Three practices.

The program helps teach students and staff to only recycle materials they know can be recycled. To reduce contamination in recycling bins and ensure markets for the collected recyclable materials, important messages such as “no liquids or food in recycling bins” are emphasized. Students in turn bring these lessons home.

“The schools and districts we’re recognizing this spring have initiated or improved sustainable practices such as reducing paper use, reducing food waste, recycling, and conserving energy and water, all of which reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change,” said Dale Alekel, Green Schools Program manager.

Student Green Teams monitored energy use in classrooms, promoted walking, biking and carpooling to school, encouraged their peers to use durable water bottles, and created videos about a variety of conservation practices. Students tested water quality in streams, mentored teams in other schools, and helped create rain gardens and pollinator gardens on their campuses. Schools taught students about food systems and why food is a valuable resource, and set up share tables to reduce waste of unopened, packaged foods from school lunch programs.

In addition to Green Schools Program assistance and recognition, King County offers educational programs such as an elementary school assembly program and classroom workshops for grades 1–12 that teach students about conservation.

Learn more by contacting Alekel at 206-477-5267 or

School district recognition
King County Green Schools Program is recognizing Issaquah School District and Tahoma School District as Sustaining Green School Districts for maintaining waste reduction and recycling (Level One), energy conservation (Level Two), and water conservation (Level Three) practices, and for completing additional conservation actions. One criterion is that 75 percent or more schools in the district completed Sustaining Green School criteria in the past two years.

Issaquah School District
All 24 district schools participate in the King County Green Schools Program and have been recognized as Level One Green Schools for effective waste reduction and recycling practices, while 22 schools have received recognition as Level Two and Level Three Green Schools for their energy conservation and water conservation education and practices.

Sustainability is a district priority. Its annual report includes environmental education course requirements, key conservation programs, a comprehensive review of utilities use, and conservation success stories. A district resource conservation manager monitors school utility bills and supports school and district sustainability goals.

Dawn Wallace, director of teaching and learning, leads a district Green Team of school Green Team advisors, resource conservation manager, food service, and maintenance directors to meet a minimum of twice each school year to discuss best practices, successes, challenges, and mentoring opportunities between schools.

Curriculum in each grade level includes education about sustainability. Partnering with the King County Green Schools Program and City of Issaquah, the district organizes an annual sustainability summit for secondary school students.

All classrooms, offices, and cafeterias have recycling bins and signs. All district schools collect compostable materials for commercial composting. Waste reduction and recycling are included in annual custodial trainings.

Student Green Teams lead sustainability activities such as assisting with proper waste sorting in cafeterias, and creating conservation posters, videos, and educational campaigns. Several schools have native, edible plant, or rain gardens where students learn about plant science and help maintain the garden.

In addition to sustaining the practices above, the district invited each school to participate in an Earth Month celebration to share consistent messages district-wide. Each week in April 2019, school teams selected a different conservation theme, including waste reduction and recycling, energy conservation, water conservation and pollution prevention, and transportation choices.

Tahoma School District
Each of the nine schools in Tahoma School District participates in the King County Green Schools Program. All district schools have been recognized as Level One, Level Two, Level Three, and Sustaining Green Schools.

Each school has a student Green Team led by a staff member. With leadership from Dawn Wakeley, executive director of teaching and learning, staff Green Team leaders meet regularly to share successes, challenges, and information. Mary Jane Glaser, the district’s school board sustainability representative, participates in those district Green Team meetings.

At Maple View and Summit Trail middle schools, STRETCH enrichment classes include Oceanography and Biosphere, both focusing on sustainability of the environment. Two elementary schools maintain native plant and rain gardens to prevent water pollution and conserve water.

Recyclable and compostable materials are collected in all district facilities, and most schools participate in Waste Free Wednesdays to encourage reduction of food waste and disposable packaging in lunches. All elementary schools use durable trays and utensils at lunchtime, all secondary schools use compostable trays and utensils, and all schools use compostable trays and utensils at breakfast.

Student Green Teams encourage sustainability efforts in their schools. For example, the teams monitor cafeteria waste and recycling stations to help ensure students place only accepted and empty recyclable materials in recycling bins.

Principals receive monthly updates on Green Team activities, custodians learn about conservation practices in twice annual trainings, and the district tracks energy and water data for use in classrooms and by Green Teams. All teachers and other staff members receive information three times each year on how they can help conserve energy and other resources.

Energy conservation was a main sustainability focus in 2018-19. For each student Green Team, McKinstry, a company that provides energy and facility services for the district, led a building operator tour of school mechanical spaces to share how building systems consume energy and water. Student teams were encouraged to form Power Patrols to promote energy conservation in classrooms and throughout each school facility.

School recognition
Sustaining Green Schools 2018 – 2019

60 schools were recognized as Sustaining Green Schools for maintaining Level One, Two, and Three practices, and completing an additional conservation action or educational strategy.

Auburn School District:

    • Ilalko Elementary School
    • Lakeland Hills Elementary School
    • Lea Hill Elementary School

Enumclaw School District:

    • Enumclaw Middle School
    • Westwood Elementary School

Federal Way Public Schools:

    • Camelot Elementary School

Highline School District:

    • North Hill Elementary School
    • Shorewood Elementary School

Issaquah School District:

    • Apollo Elementary School
    • Beaver Lake Middle School
    • Briarwood Elementary School
    • Cascade Ridge Elementary School
    • Challenger Elementary School
    • Clark Elementary School
    • Creekside Elementary School
    • Discovery Elementary School
    • Endeavour Elementary School
    • Grand Ridge Elementary School
    • Issaquah High School
    • Issaquah Middle School
    • Maywood Middle School
    • Newcastle Elementary School
    • Pacific Cascade Middle School
    • Pine Lake Middle School
    • Skyline High School
    • Sunny Hills Elementary School
    • Sunset Elementary School

Kent School District:

    • Lake Youngs Elementary School

Lake Washington School District:

    • Carl Sandburg Elementary/Discovery Community School

Mercer Island School District:

    • Island Park Elementary School
    • Lakeridge Elementary School
    • Mercer Island High School
    • Northwood Elementary School
    • West Mercer Elementary School

Northshore School District:

    • Moorlands Elementary School
    • Secondary Academy for Success
    • Skyview Middle School

Renton School District:

    • Tiffany Park Elementary School

Riverview School District:

    • Carnation Elementary School

Shoreline School District:

    • Echo Lake Elementary School

Snoqualmie Valley School District:

    • North Bend Elementary School
    • Snoqualmie Elementary School
    • Two Rivers School

Tahoma School District:

    • Cedar River Elementary School
    • Glacier Park Elementary School
    • Lake Wilderness Elementary School
    • Maple View Middle School
    • Rock Creek Elementary School
    • Shadow Lake Elementary School
    • Summit Trail Middle School
    • Tahoma Elementary School
    • Tahoma Senior High School

Private schools:

    • Chestnut Hill Academy (Bellevue)
    • King’s Elementary School (Shoreline)
    • King’s High School (Shoreline)
    • St. Bernadette Parish School (Burien)
    • St. Luke School (Shoreline)
    • The Evergreen School (Shoreline)
    • The Jewish Day School (Bellevue)
    • The Overlake School (Redmond)

Level Three (water conservation and pollution prevention)
The following 11 schools were recognized as King County Level Three Green Schools for maintaining their Level One and Two practices, and engaging students and employees in water conservation and pollution prevention actions.

Auburn School District:

    • Alpac Elementary School

Enumclaw School District:

    • Southwood Elementary School

Highline School District:

    • Waskowitz Outdoor School

Issaquah School District:

    • Cougar Ridge Elementary School
    • Maple Hills Elementary School

Lake Washington School District:

    • Eastlake High School
    • Environmental and Adventure School
    • Redmond High School

Renton School District:

    • H.O.M.E. Program / Renton Academy

Riverview School District:

    • Eagle Rock Multi-Age Program

Private schools:

    • Woodinville Montessori School

Level Two (energy conservation)
The following seven schools were recognized as King County Level Two Green Schools for maintaining their Level One waste reduction and recycling practices, and learning about and engaging in energy conservation actions.

Highline School District:

    • McMicken Heights Elementary School
    • Sylvester Middle School

Kent School District:

    • Park Orchard Elementary School

Lake Washington School District:

    • International Community School
    • Lake Washington High School

Northshore School District:

    • Inglemoor High School

Shoreline School District:

    • Meridian Park Elementary School

Level One (waste reduction and recycling)
The following 11 schools were recognized as King County Level One Green Schools for initiating or improving waste reduction and recycling practices:

Issaquah School District:

    • Gibson Ek High School

Lake Washington School District:

    • Alexander Graham Bell Elementary School
    • Ella Baker Elementary School
    • Emily Dickinson Elementary School
    • Finn Hill Middle School
    • Horace Mann Elementary School
    • Mark Twain Elementary School
    • Rosa Parks Elementary School

Northshore School District:

    • Lockwood Elementary School
    • Northshore Middle School

Private schools:

    • Valley Christian School (Auburn)

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