Peterson Elementary was awash with green on Tuesday as students got their first official look at the school's new solar panel.
Installed during spring break, the solar panel is connected to the Internet so that students and staff can see exactly how much "green" energy is being produced for their school.
"We're very excited to have installed the solar panel on our roof in time for Earth Day," said Peterson principal Adam Parrott-Sheffer. "We're calling the day our 'Solarbration'".
The Earth Day event included a full environmental tour of the school, wherein students explored both the new solar panel and the school's recycling and composting centers.
"Approximately 150 of our students are involved in green initiatives," said Principal Parrott-Sheffer. "Our student recyclers run recycling programs in all of our classrooms, and our composters turn cafeteria leftovers into nourishment for our garden."
The Peterson garden has been maintained for more than a decade, giving students the chance to witness and participate in the entire food cycle.
"They take waste from lunch and turn it into compost, then tend the soil and eat what they grow," said Principal Parrott-Sheffer. "It's how they take ownership of the things in their community, which is one of our goals as a school – developing strong community leaders."
Peterson's Earth Day "Solarbration" included Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Charles Williams and Chicago Board of Education member Jesse Ruiz, both of whom were impressed with the level of commitment on display from the school's "Green Kids".
"I was thrilled to visit Peterson Elementary School to learn even more about recycling and sustainability from these bright young students," said Commissioner Williams. "Peterson's commitment to providing students with an integrated green curriculum is a tremendous example to all our schools on how to make a lasting impact on students and the health of our city."
Similar events will be happening throughout CPS as part of Earth Week, including an assembly at Locke Elementary complete with a pedal-powered stage.
"Teachers and students will ride to generate electricity for our microphone, speakers and projector," said Bradley Parker, the IB Coordinator at Locke. "Topics will include American environmental movements and issues of overconsumption and single-use plastic."
Locke will also host a movie night on Thursday, with students, parents and community members invited to a free showing of Dr. Seuss's "The Lorax", a child-friendly allegory about society's impact on the environment. The movie will be followed by a community dialogue, along with a writing exercise where students and parents will be encouraged to create their own "environmental prescription".
At Waters Elementary, students will spend part of Wednesday and Thursday in a local forest preserve to study native ecosystems and participate in some natural restoration projects. They will also be preparing the school's large gardens _3.5 acres) for the spring growing season, which means planting, weeding, hauling compost, spreading mulch and tending to Waters' hundreds of fruiting bushes.
"Every class works in the gardens," said Pete Leki, Director of Ecology Programs at Waters. "It helps offset the disconnect that comes from living in a society where we don't experience where our food comes from. By witnessing what happens in the gardens, our students become lovers of fruits, vegetables, and most importantly, nature."