The 2014 Summit of Sustainability Awards

Winner, Public Sector Category: Old Trail School

Teaching sustainability by example

Located in the heart of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Old Trail School always had a reason to be sustainable.
But this year, the co-educational, independent day school for students in early childhood through eighth grade focused its sustainability initiatives on five major areas: operations, facility, recycling, water and food. Through a hands-on curriculum, the school engaged its students by teaching them how to be environmental stewards and advocates.
The program introduced the middle school to new electives, such as Sustainable Shelters, Edible Classroom, Save the Bees and Save Our Planet. Students used recycled materials in art class and maintained a small wetland garden the Old Trail School successfully restored.
Middle school students also presented their efforts and success at the Hudson Environmental Awareness Committee town meeting. Most recently, they participated in Hudson’s Green on the Green Event, exhibiting their knowledge of sustainability.
Together, students also got their hands dirty on Earth Day, planting milkweed in the hopes of assisting the growth of the monarch butterfly population. In addition, a student Environmental Action Committee was formed, which included a first grade presentation during an all-school assembly.
One of Old Trail School’s many successes was the reduction of 75 percent of its overall harmful chemicals. One switch involved using vinegar-based cleaners in classrooms. Produced by the students each year, these green cleaners are distributed and utilized in every classroom.

The Old Trail School is forging a path in teaching a new generation to be committed to the environment.