Spanish 4 Helps Menchville Go “Green”


National Wildlife Federation

The Eco-Schools banner by the National Wildlife Federation.

Menchville High School is adding a new school color- green. Not literally, of course, but MHS will be undergoing some changes to make the school a more environmentally-friendly school in the near future. This is all due to a new project started by Sra. Rodriguez’s Spanish 4 class, who are taking action to make the school a “greener” place.

Recently, Rodriguez’s Spanish 4 class has become aware of Menchville’s large environmental impact- a trait not uncommon for high schools, but still undesirable. Sustainability and environmental mindfulness are not major emphases of MHS, but the Spanish department is hoping to change that. Rodriguez plans to establish a school-wide “Green Team” of students, teachers, and staff (at least 50% of Menchville’s population) to bring environmental issues to the attention of the student body.

Laura Madler
Spanish 4 students have outlined their 7-step Eco-School plan on a whiteboard in Rodriguez’s room.

Establishing a Green Team is the first step in the National Wildlife Federation’s plan for creating an “Eco-School.” The Eco-School program started in 1994 under the Foundation for Environmental Education before being recognized as a United Nations Environmental Program in 2003. The foundation is recognized globally, with Eco-Schools in over 59 international countries participating. Through participation in the program, schools work on making their buildings more environmentally sustainable and promoting environmental knowledge and awareness in their curriculum.

Once a Green Team is established at MHS, the school will choose a pathway to follow, which is a specific area of environmental concern for the school to focus on fixing. Menchville’s Spanish classes have chosen to primarily center their efforts around trash disposal and recycling at the school. Said Rodriguez, “There is so much trash around Menchville, and if you look, you see there are no recycling bins anywhere.” To remedy this, Rodriguez bought 90 new recycling bins for the classrooms at MHS. The new bins have already been placed in classrooms on the language hallway, where their bright blue color and prominent recycling arrows hope to encourage more students and teachers to put more thought into where they should throw away their trash.

Laura Madler
Blue recycling bins like this one, found in Rodriguez’s room, will start popping up in classrooms all over the school.

Aside from getting a handle on Menchville’s trash problem, Rodriguez’s Green Team also aims to make Menchville a cleaner and prettier learning environment. Eventual plans include garden projects, flower beds, and possibly adding lion statues by the front entrance of the school. Rain barrels and lowering electricity usage (and therefore costs) are also in the future for Menchville’s Eco-School plan designed by Rodriguez and Spanish 4.

The Green Team project started in Spanish 4 as a part of the students’ final exam for the class. Lower levels of Spanish are also getting involved with the planning and volunteering while they learn how to manage the program. With only three weeks left in the school year, it may seem a little late to start a project this large. Rodriguez, however, says, “It is good to start it [the Green Team] now because the students will be prepared for next year. The juniors and the other Spanish classes will already know how this works for next year after the seniors leave.” The Eco-School project will likely take another 2-3 years before Menchville can apply for certification and awards, making it a long-term project that will require involvement from all grades.

The National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-School program is a very cooperative program that promotes working together within the community as well as within the school. Currently there are three Eco-Schools in the city of Newport News- Booker T. Washington Middle School, Deer Park Elementary, and Hampton Roads Academy. These are three of the five Eco-Schools on the Peninsula, which Menchville may eventually join the ranks of. Some Spanish students plan to meet with these schools to discuss their Eco-School programs and stories of success. Within Menchville’s walls, Rodriguez also plans to work with the AP Environmental Science and Earth Science teachers to incorporate the Eco-School program in parts of their environmentally-focused classes.

Participation is the key to this Green Team’s success at Menchville. Rodriguez hopes this project will let people know that, “recycling crosses all languages- all ethnicities. The world belongs to all of us and we are all responsible for it.” Any students, faculty, and staff who would like to be a part of this green revolution at Menchville are encouraged to seek out Rodriguez and sign up for the Green Team.