Crane School Gets Greener

Crane first-grader Mia Lomeli is very cautious when it comes to garbage. Every time she throws something away, she asks her mother, “Do I put it in the regular trash or the recycle bin?” It doesn’t matter how small the item is – Mia has even asked about a used Q-Tip.

Mia’s thoughtfulness is exactly what Crane Country Day School teachers and administrators were hoping for when they launched a school-wide effort this year to focus on environmental awareness. As part of that effort, Crane devoted its spring study week in March to the theme “Earthwalk – Our Journey, Our Responsibility,” and its spring fundraiser on May 5 is called “Sprouting Green.”

“We wanted to get past green being a trend or the politically correct thing to do, and instead have people think about fundamental values,” says Joel Weiss, Crane head of school. “We’re teaching children to take an active role in the world they are going to inherit.”

The mission at Crane this year is to pollute less, recycle more and reduce energy consumption. Towards that goal, several new earth-friendly initiatives have begun. All hot lunches are organic and locally produced, and children eat them on reusable plates. After lunch, children collect food scraps for a composting bin, and the compost material is then used in school gardens around campus. On Earth Day this past Sunday, Crane students won an award from Art From Scrap’s environmental division for this composting program.

Around campus, light bulbs have been replaced with energy-efficient ones, saving the school hundreds of dollars on its electricity bill. In addition, Southern California Edison visited last week to evaluate the school’s energy use as part of a program called “Direct Install Program” that provides businesses with free energy-efficient products and installation. The energy-saving products should be in place by the end of this month.

Other environment-friendly efforts are in the works. Crane is exploring installing solar panels, and business manager Dale Dunlap has been working with the Community Environmental Council to develop a plan for making Crane totally self-sustainable.

Students got involved during spring study week, a special time prior to spring break when the lower school takes a breather from its regular schedule and creates a new, focused curriculum. This year’s focus on the earth included workshops on: climate crisis issues, organic cooking, the problems with population explosion, the harm shopping bags cause, new uses for old things, the benefits of solar power and how to start a nature journal.

“I wasn’t really aware of what was going on with the Earth,” said fifth-grader Holly Blair at the end of spring study week. “It’s amazing what humans are doing to our environment. It’s a big deal.”

The seminars made a big impact on students, who shared the information with their parents at home. In addition to Mia Lomeli’s garbage questions, other parents reported that their children asked them to use re-usable grocery bags and buy only organic produce. One student suggested to his mother that she should put his baby brother on the back of a bicycle and peddle to the grocery store instead of using a car.

“Realistically, what I can do is plan for fewer trips and bring my own bags,” says parent Winifred Lender.

The eco-friendly theme continues next month, when Crane celebrates its annual auction on the school’s campus. Guests are encouraged to wear recycled cocktail dresses, and a one-year lease for a Toyota Prius is being offered as a raffle prize.

For more information on the “Sprouting Green” auction on May 5, contact Kerrey Bumgarner at 969-7732, ext. 117.