"Our third-grade enjoy collecting fruit and vegetable scraps from the kitchen and adding them to our compost bins. In spring, they can use the compost when we plant the garden." - Crystal Glyyn, Primary School science teacher
Statement of Purpose: The sustainability movement at MKA leads by example to foster students’ ethical development. As students move through MKA, they are encouraged to be leaders in responsible use of their resources and stewards of their community. By the time students graduate, they will further understand their impact on the environment and be inspired by their experience at MKA to make meaningful change in the world around them.
- To engage students in developing responsible daily habits and connecting their actions with global consequences.
- To encourage teaching sustainability through curriculum and the buildings themselves by making responsible decisions.
- To lower the carbon footprint of the school by reducing the energy and water use by buildings.
MKA’s youngest students take an active role in sustainability. Proper recycling of daily materials, such as paper, cardboard, and juice boxes, is practiced. Each grade has a triple bin for recycling, and students in each classroom have weekly recycling responsibilities. Students in grades 1–3 learn about vermicomposting through science class, and students in grade 3 are responsible for picking up food scraps from the Primary School kitchen and composting them in outdoor bins. These Primary School leaders also have the option of researching a sustainability issue and advocating for its implementation on a community level as part of a spring unit of study called Agents of Change.
At the Middle School, students lead many of the sustainability initiatives, including recycling, gardening and composting. In grade 4, students learn about the importance of recycling, share this message with the school community and are in charge of recycling classroom paper every week. Fifth graders learn about where their food comes from and goes to, tend worm compost bins and grow their own food in a garden as part of an interdisciplinary curriculum.
During advisory lessons at all grade levels, students learn about and reflect on their impact on the environment and suggest ways to make the school and themselves more sustainable. Students in the Green Group, a student-led club for grades 4-8, create videos, posters and assemblies to teach the MKA community about where our waste goes, how we recycle and what we can do to make a difference. They have also participated in the Green Cup Challenge and reported the results to the school community.
At the Upper School we strive for greatness in all we do, and often it comes as the result of many smaller steps that add up to make a big difference. We have made changes both in our daily habits as well as to the building. Every part of student life, from printing to eating, transportation to how we learn, is being adjusted to decrease our impact on our environment. Our new Academic Center, which we hope will receive LEED certification, conserves resources and demonstrates our commitment to the environment.
The Environmental Action (EnAct) Club works to raise awareness, inspire more eco-friendly personal habits, make the school more environmentally sound and advocate for issues that members care about by writing local representatives. Student leaders present environmentally topical information and recommendations for action to the student body at all-school meetings each month.
As part of the curriculum, all first-year students take a global citizenship class that includes topics such as global warming, the tragedy of the commons and other environmental issues. In addition, an environmental science class studies water quality at the nearby Peckman River, and statistics classes use real-time electricity data from the school in project-based learning.
"I think the water-filling station is useful because instead of wasting plastic water bottles, you can refill your own water bottle."- Lila Jung, 3rd grader
"I think that it's really important to recycle and be sustainable because if you take a long-term view of your community and you don't sustain it, you will run out of resources."- Stephen Hatfield, 3rd grader
"MKA is excelling in recycling. We remember in 5th grade, when the school had just gotten new bins and people were unsure what to put in. In the Green Group we have made many presentations about this matter. All of our work paid off, because our recycling data has increased. Maybe next year we will win the Green Cup Challenge!"- Madison Green and Grace Huntington- 7th grade
"From more efficient water fountains to students conducting research in an attempt to improve our community's sustainability, MKA has made huge strides in the years I have been here."- Nicole Romola '15
"MKA's commitment to the environment shines through its new water fountains, signs scattered around teaching about the environment and students and teachers who pride themselves on sustainability."- Sarah Fatkin '18
"The sustainability program at MKA keeps getting better every year and is saving the earth one kilowatt at a time!"- Marc Roube '16
"Adding water bottle refilling stations has saved hundreds of plastic water bottles from death by incineration or landfill."- Isaiah Kramer '16
"The automatic lights are great because I always forget to turn off the lights."- Julia Malloy '18
"I had never seen such a concentrated effort to conserve energy by teachers until I attended MKA."- Pierce Cohen '16
Both Upper and Middle schools compete in the Green Cup Recycling Challenge each fall and the Green Cup Energy Challenge each winter. These competitions help MKA analyze its efficiency and make students aware of the impacts of their choices.
Environmental Action (EnAct) promotes a culture of sustainability among students and faculty.
Faculty involved in the Citizens' Climate Lobby attended the People's Climate March with 400,000 others in 2014.
In 2012 our dining halls switched to reusable plates and silverware after years of Styrofoam plates and plastic ware
In 2012 we installed triple bins instead of single wastebaskets, which has dramatically increased recycling rates.
As of 2012 we began to make student concern forms, appointment reminders and advisor announcements available electronically rather than on paper.
In 2013 we installed occupancy sensors to turn lights off automatically when classrooms are empty.
In 2013 we installed water coolers connected to our tap-water supply, eliminating the need for plastic bottles shipped here by truck.
In 2014 we installed water bottle–refilling stations that encourage reusable water bottles instead of disposables.
In 2014 our Technology Department helped significantly reduce paper waste by installing print management software that only allows a job to be printed after entering a print release code.
The new Upper School Academic Center, completed in 2016, has a green roof and many other eco-friendly aspects. MKA hopes that the center will receive LEED certification.
Since 2011, MKA has been making strides to be a greener, more environmentally friendly school. In the last 4 years, we have taken steps to significantly decrease resource use at MKA.