Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (SCH) was recently named a bronze-level Eco-School by the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program which promotes environmental education, conserving natural resources and “greening” physical structures and grounds. With this award, SCH was recognized for its “healthy living” commitment to getting students outdoors and encouraging physical activity—factors that enhance students’ emotional well-being. Betty Ann Fish, SCH’s Chair of the Physical Education Department and a nationally recognized PE teacher, led the Eco Schools “Healthy Living” initiative with the help of the school’s Green Task Force, sustainability consultants Mary Ann Boyer and Anne Sudduth, and the school community.
In her role at SCH, Fish teaches students lifelong habits about eating healthy food and being physically active. So it was no surprise that the “healthy living” initiative resonated with her. Fish first surveyed teachers and students on time spent outside and physically active. After encouragement from Fish and her team, “SCH made a conscious effort to get more classes and nontraditional classes outside,” according to Fish. She hopes this will extend beyond school and at home students will “value being outside.” Fish noted, “How you live affects your energy use, how much waste you produce and water you use.” Studies show time spent outdoors helps children grow lean and strong, enhances imaginations and attention spans, decreases aggression, and boosts classroom performance. Children who spend time in nature become better stewards of the environment.
"At a school where sustainability efforts are everywhere, applying for this award was a 'no-brainer," Fish acknowledged. SCH recently eliminated its single-use plastic water bottles and the school’s cafeterias received a 3-star rating as a “Certified Green Restaurant” through the Green Restaurant Association. Past efforts include storm-water management, a zero waste cafeteria initiative, a .5-acre solar panel installation, a LEED certified science building and stewardship of the Wissahickon Watershed.
SCH is proud of its green footprints. Chief Financial Officer Frank Aloise states, “This work is purposeful and important. SCH is dedicated to being a smart steward of the environment. I’m confident that there is not a single student who hasn’t become more mindful of their impact on the environment.”
Written by Allison Berman, a rising junior at Bates College and intern at Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants (www.boyersudduth.com).