High school Green Team places first in Green Schools Quest

Three people stand with and award.The Pattonville High School Green Team placed first in the high school division of the 2024 Green Schools Quest. Intended to build a more sustainable community and a greener future, Green Schools Quest (GSQ) is an annual project-based, student-driven challenge where students devise and implement no- or low-cost sustainability projects at their school. During a six-month period, students work with a community volunteer who serves as a Green Mentor and document the impact of their work, including energy savings or increased biodiversity. Their project is then judged by an impartial, expert panel of judges from across the country. 

“We are thrilled to share that this prestigious award is the result of about two years of hard work from student volunteers with a focus on sustainability,” science teacher and Green Team sponsor Lauren Church said. “Thank you for supporting the Green Team! We will pursue state and national criteria in the coming years for PHS to be recognized as a National Green Ribbon School.”

The Green Team focused on the sustainability work they completed during the 2023-2024 school year, titling their project What’s Old is New Again. The goal of their project was to focus on physical space while improving organizational culture. Because the high school shared a property boundary with the Champ Landfill, the Green Team is focused on reducing landfill waste.

“Many of our action plans have centered around waste diversion and minimization, recycling or reusing all possible materials, composting food waste and utilizing our resources wisely,” the group said in a report. “Our long-term sustainability awareness goal at PHS is to have a zero-landfill policy within our building!”

The Green Team volunteers to collect recycling in the building each week. After noting a high percentage left of trash in the recycling bins, the team created an awareness campaign and designed a sign for the bins that better outlined what is recyclable. Students also used recyclable materials to create something beautiful. The team collected paper and reused it to make recycled paper with seeds native to Missouri in it. The Green Team collaborated with other clubs to host a Valentine’s fundraiser to sell a small gift along with a note written on the seed paper and they raised $200 to donate to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.

The Green Team is also responsible for a composting project between other students and custodial staff. In order to raise funds to host an electronic recycling event, the students developed a sustainable fundraiser where they sold hot chocolate, offering a discount for anyone who brought their own reusable cup. 

“The number of projects the Green Team of students submitted was astounding to the judges, and demonstrated an exemplary commitment to biodiversity, climate change reversal, sustainable practices and healthy living for both students and staff,” said Dr. Deborah Rogers Curtis, Green Schools Coordinator for the Missouri Gateway Green Building Council. 

Senior Mikayla Jones attended the annual Green Schools Event on April 25 where the award was announced. The event also featured sustainability information, displays about Quest projects and a panel discussion featuring students from several Quest schools.

During the board meeting on May 14, Dr. Rogers Curtis presented Church and senior Green Team leader Eliora Adler with a certificate and a hand-blown stained glass trophy made out of recycled glass by local artisans at Third Degree Glass Factory. The award was a reflection of the beautiful, sustainable world the students are creating. The Green Team also received $400 to put towards their sustainability endeavors. 

Maggie McCoy, climate change education coordinator at the Missouri Botanical Garden, was Pattonville’s mentor. In the high school division, Central High School in Springfield placed second and St. Louis University High School placed third. The GSQ is part of the Show-Me Green Schools group of programs co-delivered by Missouri Gateway Green Building Council and the Missouri Environmental Education Association.

See the Green Team’s presentation here.