North Participates in Sustainability Challenge

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Even though North didn't win the overall Sustainability Challenge, they won the mini-challenge in April, "Earth Day, Every Day." Students could take a survey, take a pledge, or perform one of the activities on this bingo sheet to earn points.

Zach Payeur, staff writer

Parkway North had been participating in the Sustainability Challenge since Sept. 3. Last year, North claimed first place; however, that changed this year.

Reminding students and teachers about the challenge and getting people to participate was difficult since we are not at school. Teachers were tasked with finding creative ways to contact students in spite of the difficulties of quarantine to encourage sustainability.

“We are using emails to teachers as well as emails directly to students. I also have it as a weekly agenda item on our Friday lunch meeting [which is now a Wednesday Google Meet],” said science teacher Dr. Karen LaFever, head of North’s Sustainability Challenge.

LaFever had some help from students in spreading the word about the challenge and encouraging involvement.

“Email is my best tool, especially reaching out personally to students who were actively involved before this began. Sydney King and Mikenna Ham have been instrumental in sending out emails to their peers,” said Dr. LaFever.

In addition to the problem of spreading the word, some activities were not able to be done without the ability to meet with others.

“The main way quarantine has affected my ability to participate in the challenge is just not being able to get outside and complete some of the challenges or interact with my community which is kind of a bummer, but at the very least I’m still somewhat able to help out,” said senior Sydney King.

Some of the activities included taking a biodiversity walk, calculating your carbon footprint, visiting the St. Louis Composting site and reading a book outside. After an activity was completed, students document the activity in a variety of ways and then report the activity on the website.

This year’s challenge was different from last year’s; not just because of the quarantine but because it was increased in duration.

“Last year, we were able to incorporate the challenge into the AP Environmental class. This year, the challenge moved from a semester to an entire year. It became more difficult to use that much class time, so we were a bit behind when the second semester started. I have confidence in North High’s ability to showcase how we lead the district in sustainable practices,” said Dr. LaFever.

While the idea of winning first place again was enticing, students had to remember the main purpose of the challenge. 

“I got involved with the sustainability challenge simply because I care a lot about the environment. Environmental science and activism is always something I’ve been interested in so it made sense for me to participate in an activity like it,” said King.

According to their website, the Parkway School District hopes the challenge will “spark student’s curiosity and empower them with capabilities to create a more sustainable future.”

The challenge ended on April 30 with South High in the lead. The high school with the most points at the end of the challenge won $700. North did have the highest number of points in the sustainability learning category and did win the mini-challenge in April, showcasing the presence of environmental connections in curriculum.