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Keeping SMSD green: Prairie Elementary's students lead way in composting, environmental education

Prairie Elementary's students work to keep SMSD green
Posted at 8:51 AM, Apr 22, 2024

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. — Every day at schools across the Shawnee Mission School District, students run through a daily routine of composting.

At Prairie Elementary School, students on the school’s “green team” have taken it a step further by working to inspire their younger classmates to keep their school green.

“We started a thing called STW in second grade,” said Quinn Kamphaus, Prairie sixth grader.

STW, or "Save the World," aims to build a lifelong interest in the environment in fellow students.

“When they grow older and realize what they’re doing from a young age, they might become interested in saving the Earth,” Quinn said.

Quinn, Emeline Wilinski, and Greenlee Wicoff worked with their principal and the district to make the lunchroom environment a green environment. That meant obtaining reusable silverware and composting their leftovers.

“We have our compost and that is almost everything left on their trays,” said Kristen Jones, principal at Prairie Elementary. “They know exactly where everything goes, and that’s part of a system that makes it so effective.”

Principal Jones said they’re teaching healthy habits.

After spending some time in the lunchroom, KSHB 41 reporter Olivia Acree saw the system working and students dropping their items in the right place.

The green team said they once used their compost in their own garden.

“They actually used to do that in our prairie garden, but it got a little bit stinky,” Greenlee said.

The team is still learning the best way to save the world, but that’s what Jones is most proud of.

“We take pride in taking care of our environment, being good global citizens,” Jones said.

Jones also noted members of the green team recognize the difference they’re making.

“Of course, one school can still make a difference, but it would make a great impact if a lot of schools did it,” said Nora Lynn, Prairie sixth grader.

Prairie students hope other school districts try their composting methods or create their own environmental practices. They also hope to keep their green team going at their middle school next year.