Big day at the McGrath Amphitheater this afternoon, as a couple hundred area students and adults wearing Green flooded the venue to celebrate the culmination of green initiatives that were happening in our area schools all year.

Cedar Rapids School District

Who were these "green" people?  They are the "Green Team", and so far 23 area schools have them.  Maybe your kids have mentioned them.  Maybe you've seen the conservation signage in the schools, or have had your kids come home and talk to you about what they've been learning.  The Green Teams bring together students, staff, and community members committed to making positive environmental changes in their schools, communities and daily lives.  They've created conservation initiatives in the schools and have spread the message to their peers.  And today was their awards.

Before any awards were handed out however, Keynote Speaker Sofia Dennis, the learning and development co-coordinator with Nordstrom Direct had a great idea for the kids to encourage energy conservation at home.  She challenged them to...

"sit down with (their) parents when the energy bill comes in and talk about the expense.  Then, unplug everything that doesn't need to stay plugged in as it's not being used throughout the month, like the washer and dryer, toaster, coffee maker... but not the refrigerator."  Then, sit down with again when the next bill comes in, and any money saved goes to (the child's) allowance."  (Sofia Dennis)

We think that's a great idea!  Any parents up for that challenge?

Also, prior to the awards, Superintendent Dr. Dave Benson stated he just found out yesterday, that the CR School District was awarded the 2014 “Best School Recycling Program” Award from the Iowa Recycling Association, which recognizes programs and projects exhibiting cutting-edge recycling practices. 

“The creation and implementation of the Green Teams led directly to this honor. Your actions are helping to create passionate and thoughtful leaders for the future who will make environmentally-conscious decisions that will create a better world for us all.” (Dr. Dave Benson)


Huge congrats to all Green Team efforts on this achievement.  In fact, we found out later, through Green Team efforts, the students saved the district $285,437.32 through conservation.  Rob Kleinsmith, Buildings and Grounds Manager, remarked that number compares the difference in energy, water, and waste expenses from last year to this year.


As for the awards:

  • Hoover Elementary won the Alliant Energy Award for Energy Conservation for demonstrating exceptional energy conservation initiatives. They receive a commemorative plaque and a tree planted at the school.
  • Kennedy HS won the Shive Hattery Visionary Views Award for designing and implementing a conservation strategy for energy, water, and recycling efforts. They received $500 for the purchase of teaching and learning materials.
  • Jefferson HS won the Recycle More Environmental Award for outstanding performance in the environmental in the environmental field, and receive a park bench made of recycled materials.
  • Taft Middle School won the iGreenCR Award for water conservation efforts, and receive a water bottle filler drinking fountain and water bottles.
  • Hoover Elementary also won the Quaker Oats Green Award for demonstrating outstanding green initiatives.


In addition, 11 schools received Green Team Participation Awards, which came with a check for $5000 to be used for energy projects, playgrounds, or whatever the school sees fits.

To win the money, they had to reduce energy and water consumption (by at least 5%), had to go to co-mingle recycling, had to show leadership in developing a Green Team.  It's really a program that kids are rewarded for what they've worked hard for all year...  Just one way we can give back to them and say here you go, keep that momentum going, what can you do with that money to reach more. (Rob Kleinsmith)

Winning schools included Kenwood Elementary School, Taft Middle School, Van Buren Elementary School, Grant Elementary School, Truman Elementary School, Harding Middle School, Johnson Elementary School, Hiawatha Elementary School, Garfield Elementary School, and Harrison Elementary School.

Congrats to all CR Green Teams.  This gives all parents a great opportunity to talk with their kids about what they've seen with conservation efforts in their schools, and talk about how that can be applied at home.  Again, we challenge you to take the energy/allowance challenge.