Park City Day School introduces student sustainability patrol
Each day at the Park City Day School, two to three students stop by Brad McCutcheon’s office to put on construction vests and green hats emblazoned with the words “Green Rangers.” With a clipboard in hand, they scan the school for dripping water, lights that were left on and recyclable materials that were put in the trash.
The Green Rangers program, a student-led patrol that checks to see that the school is being eco-friendly, began in January. McCutcheon, director of the lower schools, said that the program is to help “empower young people to take a leadership position at the school.” Plus, it reminds teachers and students to be more aware of the waste they produce.
McCutcheon brought Green Rangers to the school after stepping into his position this school year.
The students go through training, during which they learn about the causes of air and water pollution and its effect on the population. They do a mock patrol and then read an oath, promising to serve and protect Mother Earth.
So far, he said that the program has been a success.
“(The students) come running to my office,” he said. “They love it.”
One grade is assigned to patrol the school each month. Aside from patrolling the school for behaviors to correct, they also look for “eco-superstars,” or individuals who go above and beyond with their sustainability efforts, McCutcheon said.
This year, the entire second-grade was recognized because students frequently pick up trash on the playground during their recess time. Once, after an event, a second-grade student asked why they didn’t reuse the cups rather than throw them away, he said.
He said that the school already had a great environmental program that teaches about recycling, composting and gardening, but this program is expanding the students’ education.
“All of those things were happening, but the piece to me that was missing was the student leadership piece, where the students could monitor each other and keep track of where we were making progress or where we needed to improve,” he said.
And McCutcheon said that he has seen a difference. People are more conscious of their waste because someone is watching for both good and bad behavior.
Even though sometimes it is first-grade students who must correct their older classmates, McCutcheon said that students respect the uniform and listen to those who wear it. It has not been difficult to get parents and teachers on board either, because he said that the program teaches teamwork, integrity, respect and responsibility, all values of the school.
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The Park City Board of Education is on track to place a bond on the ballot this fall to improve district facilities. The top priorities would be to put ninth grade in the high school, eighth grade in the middle school and to augment preschool offerings by expanding elementary schools.