St. Luke’s School: Environmental Ethos In Both Mind And Matter

Founded in 1928, St Luke’s School is a grade 5-12 college preparatory day school in New Canaan, Connecticut. Situated on a 40-acre campus in northern Fairfield County, the school has lives by its motto: Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve. In 2005, St. Luke’s cemented its commitment to prepare its students to be leaders and stewards of a better planet by appointing David Havens as the school’s first Environmental Coordinator.

St. Luke’s environmental mission is to:
  • Continuously improve its environment
  • Engage in environmental community service
  • Commit to environmental mentoring
  • Foster strong partnerships with neighbors, local businesses and community
  • Promote Environmental Awareness to Environmental Action
 
St. Luke’s integrated its Goals for Learning into its commitment to Environmental Awareness and Action by creating an “Education for Sustainability” (EfS) curriculum. The existing Goals for Learning were:
  • Curiosity: wondering at our world, asking questions about it, exploring it
  • Open-mindedness: being willing to consider and try new ideas, generating alternative options and explanations, and looking beyond the given and expected
  • Seeking truth and understanding: examining things more closely, looking for connections, exploring applications and consequences, pushing ideas to the limits, pulling ideas apart, contrasting one idea with another, and building explanations
  • Reflection: thinking about one’s thinking, actively monitoring, regulating, evaluating, and directing one’s thinking.
  • Integrity: living a life of honor, characterized by trustworthiness and moral and ethical strength
 
The 6th grade teaching team developed project-based Environmental Science studies, particularly in science and history. Seventh grade teachers integrated environmental issues (such as gender equity, social justice and life science) and incorporated lessons in Constitutional law and service learning.  Eighth grade teachers integrated real-world topics into the curriculum, challenging students to make connections, think critically, and find their voice.

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Preparing students for a lifelong commitment to learning and social responsibility is at the heart of the St. Luke’s School experience and St. Luke’s Center for Leadership programming. The School’s motto—Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve—inspires students to strive not only for academic excellence but to also be caring and responsible citizens.
 
St. Luke’s Upper School combines a traditional college prep curriculum with an active service-learning program. Community service is a strong pillar of the Center for Leadership, and it’s where St. Luke’s students, faculty, and families come together to share their talents and develop lifelong habits of giving back. St. Luke’s Head of School, Mark Davis, shared, “By emphasizing good character, St. Luke’s students can truly ‘Go Forth to Serve,’ making meaning of their lives and distinguishing themselves as productive citizens and ethical leaders.”
 
06948acf2e7164d03b03b587bc563fca-huge-12Campus Stewardship
St. Luke’s School has gone through some wonderful physical changes during the last ten years, including a new Athletic Center, two performing arts theaters and a cutting-edge science wing that could challenge many college facilities. Additionally, St. Luke’s students have designed and constructed several features: a half-acre pond; an 800-foot, raised boardwalk through its wetlands, connected to a mile long nature path; and an enclosed community garden, containing seven raised beds, 60 square-foot garden units, a chicken coop, an indoor hydroponic garden, and two pollinator gardens. Our Upper School students conducted experiments on invasive plant removal that resulted in St. Luke’s students winning Siemens’ “We Can Change The World Award” for Connecticut, coming in 9th in the nation. A school-wide recycling program was instituted and addresses every possible article that can be recovered, and all the Athletic Center light switches were retrofitted with motion detectors. St. Luke’s students take part in beach cleanups, waste oil to diesel conversion, the GSA’s Green Cup Challenge, tagging horseshoe crabs, fundraisers for the homeless, planting vegetable seedlings for gardens in our community and much more.
 
Facilities
St. Luke’s has enjoyed the good fortune of working with two great organizations: Flik, which supplies food services; and the campus management company, Sodexo. Both companies value and support our environmental initiatives.

Flik provides St. Luke’s School with an environmentally conscious, healthy menu. They make a concerted effort to purchase wholesome, non-GMO food from local markets whenever possible. Flik consistently composts all kitchen waste and recycles all used food containers. They are sensitive to student’s food requirements and needs, supplying alternate food choices whenever possible.

50f4c7c69dc63e3dcbb61d57c1ef6c1c-huge-12Sodexo has been a valuable ally for St. Luke’s students and our school environment. The Sodexo facility manager, Kevin Herron, has worked closely with our environmental projects; he is always willing to meet with faculty and staff and offer whatever support he has at his disposal. Herron, along with his campus grounds manager, Darrell Maier, works hard to reduce the amount of chemicals and toxins applied on the grounds, and increases the amount of safe, natural ingredients we use. An example of this is the product Maier uses to remove ice on the driveway. Instead of salt, which can deteriorate the asphalt and injure vegetation and wildlife, the facilities department uses a molasses-based mixture. Although somewhat more expensive, it works faster than sodium chloride and doesn’t harm the drive or the grass border (not to mention, the blend smells great!).
 
Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve
St. Luke’s commitment to service starts as students enter the school and continues through their senior year. Ouryoung students understand how important it is to share our prosperity. This year, the 5th graders are coming up with creative ways to raise money for Kiva, the non-profit organization that allows low-income or underserved entrepreneurs to get micro loans. Beginning in the 6th grade, SLS students readily donate the food they grow at St. Luke’s to homeless shelters, and spend days working with underprivileged, low-income families for area programs such as “Kids Helping Kids.”

3e576eb74c89465817f0e885751ddd41-huge-12Upper School students complete a required total of 80 hours of service work during grades 9-12. Under the guidance of St. Luke’s Center for Leadership Director, Jim Foley, and his team, Upper School students experience in-depth service work and greater global awareness. 

Students are given the opportunity to work with other students and schools from China, France, Argentina, and South Africa. Furthermore, our Global Scholars program offers the opportunity for St. Luke’s students to research and study significant international issues. Independentstudies in every academic department have produced an array of original research and discovery, which have led students to carry forward these interests outside of the classroom and beyond graduation. From class assignments to grade-level projects, the academic focus is designed to build and encourage critical thinking, leadership and competency.
 
35da22c546286e683a3fd8428d41b9ef-huge-12As We Look Forward
On September 21, 2014, a contingent of teachers, students, and alumni journeyed to NYC to participate in the People’s March Against Climate Change. Joining ranks with the Green Schools Alliance and thousands of young people from all the around America, we walked from Central Park West and 69th Street to the Javits Center on West 34th Street. During the march, we talked with hundreds of participants, gaining perspective and regenerating our resolve.

St. Luke’s enviromental plan going forward is to continue the work we have been doing thus far, and establish a renewed sense of awareness and action at school, our community and our state. No matter how small the chore may appear, how large the objective might be, or how complex the mission, everything we do will be a step forward for our future.
Posted by Sharon Jaye on Aug 11, 2017 1:40 PM America/Chicago

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