It was no coincidence that several audience members wore the same color at the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education meeting Tuesday night. 

Cornelia Barr with the Piedmont Environmental Alliance explained this during the public comment portion. 

“First of all, maybe you've noticed how many green shirts there are here. Everybody wearing green is supporting the environmental sustainability resolution,” Barr said. “So I think you see how important this is for the community.”

The resolution aims to show the district’s commitment to taking a holistic, systemic approach to environmental sustainability. That involves curriculum and programs, as well as eco-friendly decisions in school operations.

The board unanimously approved the resolution, prompting cheers from several audience members.

Eighth-grader Phoenix Pope was one of the public speakers who addressed the board on the matter. 

“Picture an English teacher who writes grammatically incorrect emails home to the parents every day,” Pope said. “Now picture a school that teaches about climate change and global warming, but has … gas guzzling buses, cafeterias serving on non-recyclable trays, no consistent recycling program, in fact, absolutely no visible attempt to show a concern for global warming every day.”

It’s that perception that district officials hope to address with this resolution.

Additionally, officials say they would like to replicate model environmental programs at more schools. 

Katie Sonnen-Lee says the composting program at Speas Global Elementary School, for example, made a huge impact on her children. 

“It was super powerful to see them learn more about composting, how they could have an impact, how they could really make a difference in their school,” she said. “Because when you're in elementary school, you don't have a lot of control over much in your life. But they came home like demanding that we compost everything. We have a compost pile now. It was really cool.”

The effort coincides with a Forsyth County Board of Commissioners’ 2019 pledge to use only renewable energy by 2050.

Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.

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