Saturday, July 19, 2014

Paramount School of Excellence comes by its name honestly

I've been wanting to visit Paramount for quite some time. Many friends work there, and their sustainability efforts is legendary in education circles. I had no idea, however, the scale at which this school is engaging on multiple fronts to teach kids about sustainability and our connection to nature.

You might have noticed this school if you've traveled along Brookside Parkway on the east side of Indy, between Spades Park and Brookside Park. There are a couple wind turbines visible above the tree line. This k-8 Charter school is situated on 9 acres of land, and much of it, as you'll see, is being utilized with sustainability in mind.

I was invited by Andrew Hart, who was hired this year by Paramount to take their green efforts to the next level. Andrew and I thought I was bringing the climate reality slideshow, but once I got on site, the school, 1) I didn't want to go inside on such a beautiful day to set up my slideshow and 2) I wanted to tour the grounds, especially if the students would lead.

They agreed to lead, and so here are some photos from this extraordinary school.

Paramount students show me around their garden.


Surrounding the garden are these raised-bed growing units.

The students are even growing herbs.

Here are two of the five wind turbines on site that directly offsets their electrical expenses.

One of the largest school based chicken coops I've seen.

Students introduce me to the younger chickens.

Paramount recently added a three hive apiary to their menu of sustainability.

Andrew Hart, Paramount's new Environmental Education Director.

School Director Tommy Reddicks shows off the school's water catchment system.
You may have noticed some of the students — as well as Reddicks and Hart — wearing STEAM t-shirts. According to school officials, STEAM stands for Success Through Education Agriculture and Mentoring and is a middle school program that "utilizes the operation of the school's urban farm as the catalyst for students to learn financial literacy, business management, leadership and STEM skills."


I'll let the school say a bit more about their philosophy: "Paramount’s farm is an important way for our students to understand the cycle of life and where their food comes from. Eggs are collected daily from the chickens, some which were hatched as an annual second grade activity.  The beehives provide a means to teach students about the value of pollinators, honey production, and the entrepreneurial aspect of beekeeping. And the vegetable gardens are a natural laboratory where students can start the plants from seeds, nurture the seedlings through maturity, harvest their bounty and sell the produce at the student run farmers market."

Sounds like a lovely way to spend a summer — and run a school, year-round. The students I met this day were polite and poised and clearly appreciated their school's sustainability efforts. Hey, who wouldn't want to go to a school that spends so much time and effort outdoors.




1 comment:

  1. So proud of these students and the Brookside neighborhood!

    ReplyDelete