When it comes to sustainability, the Lawrence Township Public Schools takes it very seriously – to the extent that each of the district’s seven schools has earned bronze level certification from Sustainable Jersey for Schools.
Bronze level certification requires a school to earn 150 points for activities that range from having a school garden to buying green cleaning products and reducing food waste in the cafeteria.
“Since registering with Sustainable Jersey for Schools and having all seven schools earn bronze certification, our students and staff have sharpened their focus on being respectful of our environment,” said Andrew Zuckerman, the acting superintendent of schools.
The goal of Sustainable Jersey for Schools is to help students learn how to live a better life, said Cari Gallagher, the coordinator of the school district’s Green Team. She teaches third grade at the Lawrenceville Elementary School.
In the past year or so, the school district has been awarded several grants from Sustainable Jersey for Schools that enable students to learn more about sustainability and to be able to practice it.
The Slackwood Elementary School and the Lawrence Middle School each received a $2,000 grant in April for Green Team achievers, who will coordinate Green Team activities at each of the district’s seven schools.
The Eldridge Park School received a $2,000 grant from Sustainable Jersey for Schools to install bicycle racks to encourage students to ride their bicycles to school, Gallagher said. The grant paid for bicycle helmets and bicycle locks.
The school district received a $10,000 grant to install eco-charger bicycles – stationary bicycles that are placed in the school library or media center and allow a student to read a book while “riding” a bicycle and generating electricity.
The grant provides money for six “green read-and-ride” bicycles, but thus far only three of the special bicycles have been installed – one each at the Lawrenceville Elementary School, the Lawrence Intermediate School and the Lawrence Middle School.
Three more eco-charger bicycles will be on their way soon to the Slackwood Elementary School, the Eldridge Park School and the Ben Franklin Elementary School, Gallagher said. They will arrive in the fall.
In addition to bicycle racks and eco-bicycles, Sustainable Jersey for Schools has also awarded $2,000 grants to the school district for “Yoga in the Classroom” and “Mindful Moments of Movement.”
“Yoga in the Classroom” is a way to provide motor breaks for students in the classroom as a means to promote a healthy mindset and wellness. The “Mindful Moments of Movement” encourages students to move about while in the classroom.
“We want to instill a sense of wellness in the students, and an understanding and respect for other people and the world around us. It is really helping everybody,” Gallagher said.