Green School Theme

Choosing a Green School theme for your whole school is the first step toward offering transformative education for sustainability.

A school theme is an "idea in motion." School themes are intended to inspire heightened school spirit, motivate staff and students, and help teachers administer in a positive learning environment. School themes also aid in building character and generating excitement among students.

Every member of your school community can participate in the Green School theme.

  • Teachers can sponsor an environmental club, green their curriculum and model an environmental ethic.

  • Students can suggest ways to integrate environmental learning into their coursework, organize environmentally themed events, and encourage their peers to participate. If your school has a Student Council or Prefect system, encourage the creation of a Sustainability Councillor or Steward position.

  • Parents can support and respect Green School strategies (litterless lunches, idle-free zone around the school), and model environmentally friendly behaviours and habits at home.

  • Staff can support the Green School by searching out ways to contribute (for example, janitors can suggest a switch to environmentally safer cleaning products, teachers can turn off lights when leaving their classrooms, and cafeteria staff can offer a healthy vegetarian option every day).

  • Administrators can give time for Green School planning, institute environmentally friendly purchasing and event policies, and support sustainability-focused initiatives at every level. Every Green School needs a champion!

The Green School initiative is a powerful way to show our [students] that shared responsibility for our local and global environment is an urgent matter. As such, it's a wonderfully relevant enhancement to the value of a UCC education.
— Dr. Jim Power, Principal, Upper Canada College

A school theme will include a logo and motto, perhaps a mascot and merchandise, and displays and special events.

While I was the Coordinator of Environment and Sustainability at Toronto's Upper Canada College (a kindergarten to grade 12 independent school for boys), my colleague and I worked with teachers, students, parents, staff, administrators, and Green School "mentors" to develop the Green School theme.

  • Logo: green Canadian maple leaf combined with a silhouette
    of the school's clock tower (see above)
  • Motto: "Learning It by Living It"
  • Mascot: Louie (this singing frog belts out What a Wonderful World in Louis Armstrong's voice!)
  • Merchandise: hemp and organic cotton t-shirts, and Green School emblazoned fleece car blankets (Toronto is cold in winter) made from recycled soda pop bottles (so that waiting parents would not idle their cars)
  • Special Events:
    • Walk to School Week (with culminating pancake breakfast for participants)
    • environmental guest speakers or films at Lunch & Learn sessions every two weeks
    • Earth Week
      • Nature chalk drawing on the sidewalk
      • environmental film festival
      • organic barbecue with vegetarian option
      • alternative transportation display, with hybrids and a solar car (check your local university's engineering department)
      • Spring Arts Festival with a Nature theme
    • plant/garden-related fundraisers (Pansy Palooza, student-made herbal teabags from mint and lemon balm growing in the school garden, heritage tomato plants)
    • environmentally themed assemblies once or twice per semester
    • Green School presence/displays at practically all school events

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