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An eco-friendly effort to plant seeds of sustainability at Chapel Hill High School

By Jasmina Nogo
Staff Writer

On the cold morning of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a group of roughly 10 students showed up at Chapel Hill High School for a Fight the Weeds workday to help clean up the school’s greenhouse. The effort is part of the Chapel Hill High School Green Tiger campaign, a student-led organization that promotes environmental awareness.

“Our goal is to convert it to a community garden to provide free food,” said high school science teacher and club advisor Matthew Jessee.

According to freshman Kristen Powers, president of the Green Tiger campaign, the greenhouse hasn’t been used in over a decade. The group plans to plant the community garden in the spring.

“We’re trying to make our school more sustainable,” said sophomore Daniel Woldorff, head of the greenhouse committee.

The Fight the Weeds cleanup is the Green Tigers’ first big project, Woldorff said. The club was started by Powers in the fall of 2008 as the Greener School Campaign, said Jessee. Powers submitted grant proposals to get funding for the club and then collaborated with Jessee to initiate the effort.

“The club is student directed and student led,” Jessee said. “I put in my two cents, but it’s mostly up to the students.”

Woldorff said the goal is to plant the seeds for a garden that students can maintain in the years to come and to help make the school more eco-friendly in general.

“Our environmental goals are to reduce the carbon footprint of our school and improve the environmental situation,” said Jessee. He said the garden will provide free food for the school community. Any surplus will be donated to homeless shelters.

Although the Fight the Weeds workday is the club’s first project, several others are being planned. Jessee said the Green Tigers are brainstorming ways to replace Styrofoam cups that are used in the cafeteria. They are also initiating a school compost effort.

“We are building compost bins and placing them throughout the school,” Jessee said.

“We want to lead by example and become a model of sustainability for the other students,” said Woldorff.

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