Mackintosh Academy snags environmental award

Honor recognizes small school's big efforts to protect the planet

Posted 6/4/18

The 115 students at Littleton's Mackintosh Academy joined peers at only a handful of schools nationwide to become a 2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools honoree, in recognition of …

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Mackintosh Academy snags environmental award

Honor recognizes small school's big efforts to protect the planet

Posted

The 115 students at Littleton's Mackintosh Academy joined peers at only a handful of schools nationwide to become a 2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools honoree, in recognition of the school's environmentalist efforts — and are the first independent school in the state to snag the award.

Mackintosh's planet-saving ways are evident everywhere you look on the little campus: Solar panels, installed thanks to a grant won by sixth-graders in 2014, make the IB World School the first majority solar-powered school in Littleton. Students help grow organic produce in a hydroponic greenhouse. A bin by the school's entrance collects glass from neighbors that might otherwise end up discarded as unusable in the recycling process.

Mackintosh, a pre-K to eighth-grade school geared toward gifted students, is celebrating its 40th year, and draws students from as far away as Parker and Evergreen, said Diane Dunne, Mackintosh's Head of School.

The school's environmental efforts are reciprocal between students and staff, Dunne said.

“The kids help lead the teachers,” Dunne said. “It's a synergistic thing. They've got me recycling more at home, too.”

Environmentalism is in part about instilling a mindset of looking for waste and figuring out how to reduce it, said Alison Weems, a math and science teacher who helps run the greenhouse.

“We help them to share that sustainability ethic with the community,” Weems said.

Students are doing so: Sixth-grader Grace Muench recently kicked off a project to encourage downtown Littleton restaurants to cut their plastic waste by providing drinking straws on request instead of by default. Though the project is in its early stages, she said she's heard positive feedback from restaurants thus far.

“The teachers have helped me understand how much we affect the environment,” Muench said. “And they've helped me recognize there might be easy ways to help that we just aren't taking.”

The ethos of sustainability is woven into projects all over Mackintosh, including a community composting program and service days that send students to clean up parks.

Time is of the essence, students say.

“Climate change is already starting, so we have to help Earth now,” said third-grader Alie Rodina.

“That's the future talking,” Dunne said.

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