Becoming a Green School: Eastside Memorial High School’s Journey

Becoming a green school: Eastside Memorial High School's Journey, photo is a girl carrying a hose.

Eastside Memorial High School is known for tackling environmental issues head-on. This became even more evident when they became the first high school in Texas to be recognized by the National Wildlife Federation as an Eco-Schools USA Green School.

The road to becoming a Green School began in 2014, when the school embarked on a campus-wide beautification project. The overall effort included building a garden, compost system, flow form, and wicking bed for plant propagation. They also built an outdoor learning area using grant funding from the City’s Bright Green Future Grant program. The “big picture” was an integrated system that would produce food and fertility for future generations while achieving a creative solution to a well-known local environmental issue — water usage and drought.

Then, in 2015, the school decided to focus on waste by conducting an audit through Keep Austin Beautiful‘s Generation Zero Program. Through the audit, they discovered that 82 percent of the school’s landfill waste was recyclable or compostable. In response, the school’s Green Teens club made recycling bins available in each class, making it easier for students and staff to recycle. Additionally, the construction tech class built 3D display boards to remind the campus community to recycle.

Students being presented with a big check for the project at their school.

Students working soil on a school campus.  Outdoor classroom made of large stones outside of a school.

The students and staff are very proud of these initiatives, and this year, they are looking to do even more. For the 2017-18 school year, Eastside Memorial was awarded a Bright Green Future Grant to solve the problem of erosion on campus. For the project, students from the Environmental Systems and Engineering classes will work with Engineers Without Borders in designing, building, planting, and caring for a rain garden. This will provide students with real-world experience in solving an environmental issue that directly impacts a space they use daily.

The students started on the design phase last fall and will begin construction this month. They hope to complete the project in May with the help of UT students, Keep Austin Beautiful, and school staff.

Kudos to the students, faculty, and partners of Eastside Memorial High School for their dedication to making their little corner of Austin a little greener for everyone!

Eastside memorial students with City staff pose behind a garden on campus.