As a way to encourage students to become a force for good in the world, McDonogh gives them opportunities to make real, lasting change right within their own school community. One example is the Environmental Science Symposium, an annual event during which students from AP and Honors Environmental Science classes pitch ideas to improve the sustainability of McDonogh’s campus with the hope of securing the approval necessary to see their ideas become a reality.
This year, on February 25, six teams of students shared suggestions for sustainability that covered a wide range of topics from menu changes in the dining hall to water conservation at Roots Farm. The first group of presenters encouraged the School to create an Amazon storefront that would help students find environmentally friendly school supplies while also returning a portion of the profit from each purchase back to McDonogh.
Three other groups focused their attention on food service at McDonogh. One group suggested Meatless Mondays, while another proposed reducing the amount of red meat prepared for the community by switching to other more environmentally friendly substitutes. The third group looked at the amount of food wasted each day in the dining halls and proposed a system by which it could be donated to help fight food insecurity in the Baltimore area.
The final two groups looked to Roots Farm for inspiration. One proposed setting up hydroponic and aquaponic farming systems in the greenhouse as a way to allow students to grow crops year-round, reduce the amount of water needed for growing, and provide additional educational opportunities. The other group researched water use at McDonogh and pitched the idea of creating rain water collection systems. Beginning with the barns at Roots, sophisticated systems would gather a large amount of the runoff and use it to water the crops. According to the presenters, this plan would reduce McDonogh’s water usage, prevent the possible harmful effects of runnoff into the Gywnns Falls stream which travels through campus, and provide students in each division with opportunities to learn more about water conservation.
Listening intently to the student proposals were Head of School Dave Farace ’87 and other members of the school’s Administrative team. They will now carefully consider each initiative and determine the feasibility.