Photo by Marie Leonard
A group of students at Cypress Creek High School are on a mission to make their campus more sustainable.
Generation Green is the first signature project at Cy-Creek, which is something that defines the essence of each of the six career academies at the high school. Criteria for the projects include sustainability, community and educational benefits, said Jim Wells, Cy-Creek principal.
“There are all kinds of components in terms of agriculture, horticulture, engineering and manufacturing that are involved in this project,” he said. “There are small vignettes and microcosms of the world represented in this project. It’s a learning lab.”
The project has 10 components, including a fitness trail, obstacle course, sports fields, garden, greenhouse, market area, classrooms, green roofs and cisterns. Once everything is completed, it will be housed behind the school where several portables used to stand.
“We can’t attach a value to this,” Wells said. “Looking at the project and the plot of land, we estimated $100,000 to get it off the ground, but it will probably be twice that amount.”
All the money will be earned through fundraising efforts, and several local businesses and professionals have already volunteered their time and services for the project. The students are selling backpacks and bricks—the latter of which students or companies can have their name engraved—to help build Generation Green.
“The kids will be able to go alongside the engineer or the architect and learn real life skills,” Wells said. “This provides an incredible opportunity for our kids.”
Community members will be able to access almost all the different segments, but they may get the most use out of the garden, in which anyone can plant and harvest vegetables which will be sold at a farmer’s market. Additionally, students and community members can grow vegetables all year inside the greenhouse.
The fitness trail, obstacle course and sports field features will benefit several student groups, ranging from the special education classes to the ROTC organizations.
“Nowhere around here do we have a football field we can actually go to,” said student Zachary Merritt. “Yes, we do have a soccer field at Matzke [Elementary], but it is overcrowded with their own teams.”
The use of green roofs and solar panels will save the school about $10,000–$12,000 a year, said student Malcom Barnes. Additionally, the company Green Core Funding has already promised to donate and install the solar panels.
“With green roofs we would put plants on the roof, and they make the roof last longer, insulate the building and clean the air around the building,” Barnes said. “We also want to put cisterns underground or in the parking lot. They can hold water up to six months, and we can use the energy to pump water out of our sprinklers to irrigate our plants.”
The project timeline is based on the amount of money raised, but the students involved hope it will give community members a place to enjoy the outdoors.