by EMILIE KILFOIL '17
This school year, Saint Ursula Academy is beginning a new journey in fulfilling its mission. In this year of the nurturer, SUA is focusing on teaching students to be nurturers of their environment. Two composting stations have been set up in the Keller Center, and students have spent these first few weeks of school growing accustomed to how they should discard their leftover food at lunch.
Mr. Simcoe, biology and AP environmental science teacher, was involved in the creation of the program, and says of it, “Composting is just one of the many practices that SUA, and society, need to begin making the norm. Just as recycling at home was virtually unheard of 30 years ago but is commonplace today, composting needs to become an action that all people undertake in all areas of their lives.” By implementing this system in the daily routine of SUA students, the school hopes that they will grow to recognize its importance and consider their ecological footprints on their own and outside of school.
Caroline Ricke ‘17 is a student who is particularly excited about the composting project. She notes that the “composting program is teaching us to make a connection between our consumption and the impact it has on the planet.” Mr. Simcoe also hopes that the program will help students think about the big picture, and develop “habits and mindsets that they can carry with them throughout their lives.” The values that composting instills in students extend so that they can reflect on how to reduce their impact on Earth.
The three bins at each station are marked “recycle,” “landfill,” and “compost.” The process of dividing food between these bins should only take students a few more seconds than it would to dispose otherwise. Upon being asked of what challenges have risen from the system so far, Mr. Simcoe notes that the biggest challenge has been getting “students to put the proper objects in the correct bins--only cans, bottles, and paperboard in the recycling; food waste, napkins, and brown bags only in the compost; everything else in landfill.” This confusion is combatted through reminders in advisory and by teachers monitoring the compost stations. Ricke says that despite challenges, “it is very important to get into a routine that we will continue for the rest of our lives. It is also important to learn how to recycle and compost at school so we can take these practices and use them outside of school. If we are an example for our friends and family on a daily basis, then more and more people will follow.”
Even Ricke, who recycled and composted prior to SUA’s project, has learned a lot through the process. She says that reinforcing what she already knows has deepened her values and ability to act as a nurturer, and encourages her to exercise the practice of caring for herself, others, and the environment. Regarding the significance of the project, Mr. Simcoe comments, “This is not just a nice action to do because we want to; it's an essential practice that has to occur globally to make our society sustainable. When we compost or take on any sustainable behaviors, we are nurturing not just the earth, ourselves, or others, but we are nurturing our future generations.”
For more information regarding this project, feel free to ask Mr. Simcoe.