Madi Kinzel, left, and Caroline Mehring at Maplewood Parent Cooperative School on Friday, June 7, 2024 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Madi Kinzel, left, and Caroline Mehring at Maplewood Parent Cooperative School on Friday, June 7, 2024 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

How can Edmonds make new schools more sustainable? Students have ideas

In a town hall Friday, students from Maplewood Parent Co-op will make pitches for the soon-to-be rebuilt College Place schools.

EDMONDS — In a town hall Friday, students will share how the Edmonds School District can incorporate sustainability into the new College Place elementary and middle schools.

The new schools will cost the district $214 million and likely reopen in 2028. Contractors will build the new schools at the existing sites of the current schools.

From 1:45 to 2:45 p.m. on Friday, seventh and eighth grade students at Maplewood Parent Cooperative will present three topics to district leaders: outdoor learning, deconstruction and net-zero energy.

“Our world is not doing great right now, in terms of the climate,” said Caroline Mehring, 14, who will discuss the benefits of gardening and composting. “Now it’s our job to look at how to fix those issues. I think making schools as sustainable as possible would really help our environment. Then we can take those ideas and move them into other areas of the world that need help, and other sectors of our community that need help.”

Maplewood Parent Cooperative School seventh and eighth grade students listen to Climate Solutions(?) speak about sustainable construction practices during a science class for the student’s Sustainable Schools engineering units on Friday, June 7, 2024 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Maplewood Parent Cooperative School seventh and eighth grade students listen to Climate Solutions(?) speak about sustainable construction practices during a science class for the student’s Sustainable Schools engineering units on Friday, June 7, 2024 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction requires public school district planners to adhere to the Washington Sustainable Schools Protocol. The document outlines optional and required criteria to improve new school buildings, such as energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality.

Maplewood students researched potential projects within the outdoor learning, deconstruction and net-zero energy categories from the protocol they felt would benefit the entire school district, as well as Edmonds residents.

Through her research, Mehring discovered children improve academically when they garden.

“A lot of the hands-on stuff is really good for reducing stress, where in other classes, you just have to sit still and listen to the teacher,” she said. “I think the cycle is really important to teach kids how you can eat your food and then compost it and then use it to grow more food. It’s a lot more fun to grow food when you’re able to eat it afterwards.”

On Friday, Mehring plans to propose gardening as a one-semester class for students at the new College Place Middle School.

Maplewood Parent Cooperative School seventh and eighth grade students listen to Mason Rolph of Olympia Community Solar speak about different solar projects during a science class for the student’s Sustainable Schools engineering units on Friday, June 7, 2024 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Maplewood Parent Cooperative School seventh and eighth grade students listen to Mason Rolph of Olympia Community Solar speak about different solar projects during a science class for the student’s Sustainable Schools engineering units on Friday, June 7, 2024 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Madi Kinzel, 13, and her fellow group members have researched the concept of “deconstruction,” or reusing materials from demolished buildings. Kinzel’s group has evaluated whether contractors may be able to use materials from the old College Place schools to build the new ones.

Maplewood students have also researched grants the Edmonds School District can apply for, to equip the new buildings with solar panels.

“I’ve learned so much more about the climate, and it’s really making me worry about how future generations are going to be living,” Mehring said. “I want to be a part of making that better for them. I think that a lot of people are going to feel like, ‘If kids are able to help put their efforts into this and really be putting their best foot forward to fight the climate crisis, then why can’t adults?’”

Ta’Leah Van Sistine: 425-339-3460; taleah.vansistine@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @TaLeahRoseV.

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