By Alex Robinson
Flushing’s PS 154 has become the second school in the city to achieve Green Flag status, an award given to schools that excel in sustainability initiatives.
The National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program has more than 200 participating schools citywide and gives out the award to schools that demonstrate a commitment to environmental sustainability.
“You all have become student leaders, taking on this program,” Emily Fano, of the National Wildlife Federation, told a roaring gymnasium of fifth-graders last week at a celebration of the award. “It’s not easy to be a Green Flag school. It takes a lot of hard work.”
The green initiative was spearheaded by a group of seven fifth-grade students called the Green Team, which conducted weekly evaluations on every classroom in the school based on how well they were recycling and other initiatives.
Fifth-grader Rahmanullah Mayn, who was on the Green Team, said classrooms that were doing well were given “A” grades and ones that were doing poorly received “C” grades.
“We started off with C’s as a group and developed ourselves to get an A over time,” he said.
Ciyu Zhang said he liked delivering recycling bins and water bottles to each classroom.
“That was my favorite part because I got to run around,” he said, chuckling.
The school has been partnering with a number of nonprofits on environmental initiatives since 2011. It won awards with nonprofit GrowNYC, including one for a recycling initiative.
“It’s a true example of how schoolchildren can change adults’ behavior,” Principal Tara Davidson said of her school’s accomplishments.
In order to win Green Flag status, students and faculty had to implement a school-wide recycling initiative, start a health and nutrition program, institute environmentally themed curricula and plant a garden.
The school, at 75-02 162 St., successfully increased its recycling rate by 268 percent, reducing its trash by 46 percent.
“When a child is telling an adult they could do things to help the environment, it incentivizes the adult to do it themselves because how can you resist a kid?” Fano said. “We have to help educate the next generation of environmental stewards to help make positive change.”
Educators, students, state Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) and city Department of Education officials attended the celebration to mark the achievement.
After members of the Green Team presented projects at the ceremony, Fano gave the school its award. Students then got the chance to participate in a number of eco-friendly and healthy activities, including potting plants and a dancing workshop.
“Under the leadership of Principal Davidson and her staff, our students followed through on their commitment to increase sustainability and work together to make our schools greener,” Rozic said.
PS 57 in Staten Island is the only other school in the city that has achieved Green Flag status.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.