Theodore Roosevelt High School

Mon Sep 30 2013

The Theodore Roosevelt High School (known as Kent Roosevelt) in Kent, Ohio, has a lot on its plate. This is due, in no small part, to the fact that it can be hard to motivate 1500 or so kids, not to mention staff and faculty, to get excited about sustainability and environmentalism. But now, thanks to the hard work of many enthusiastic individuals, and the support and assistance of Sustainability for Educators and the Environment (SEE), Kent Roosevelt’s sustainability efforts are no longer in need of motivation, but are, instead, quickly coming to fruition.

The Kent Roosevelt Environmental Club has played a major role in this growth. Made up of a handful of eager students, the Environmental Club runs and organizes sustainability initiatives at the school, including: recycling, outreach programs (often with elementary school students), and grant acquisition. They also participate in events and special activities, including the Northeast Ohio EnviroThon, at which the Environmental Club recently won the Portage County Trophy.

And now, despite previous unsuccessful attempts, one of Kent Roosevelt’s long-term sustainability goals is finally being realized. Starting and maintaining a composting program can be quite difficult, as anyone with a backyard will tell you. In the past, Kent Roosevelt has had difficulty coordinating and allocating different responsibilities regarding its composting initiative. This time, they won’t have that problem. The composting of various food scraps will be run by students in Kent Roosevelt’s Occupational Work Experience (OWE) program. The Occupational Work Experience program provides students a chance to gain work experience in a variety of different fields. Though Kent’s OWE students also work at other area jobs, the composting program will provide them with a hands-on occupation which is not only fun, but also contributes to the community in a meaningful way.

The compost produced by the high school will then be used for a special purpose: supplying the eight raised-beds located in their new Hoop House Garden with fresh, organic soil. This garden, made possible by a donation from SEE, will be dedicated to growing a wide variety of vegetables. Kent Roosevelt not only plans to sell the resulting crops at the Kent Farmers Market, but also hopes to one day use their vegetables in the school cafeteria. Excess compost will be sold as well, providing further support for the sustainability initiative.

But perhaps Kent Roosevelt’s most impressive sustainability project is their Eco House. Built by Kent Roosevelt students, the Eco House showcases the variety of sustainable and environmentally-friendly modifications that one can make to one’s home, which are both simple and effective. Whether it’s a new kind of sustainable insulation, floor tile, even a small rooftop wind turbine, the Eco House has it on display. Some of these features will also help manage the Hoop House Garden. The Eco House will be able to generate electricity by utilizing the rooftop wind turbine and solar panel. The electricity generated will then be stored in a large battery inside the house, which is hooked up to a power inverter. This inverter will then distribute the energy to the Hoop House’s fans and lighting. Additionally, rain barrels will be attached to both the Eco House and a large barn next door to the Hoop House. The water collected will then be used to irrigate the Hoop House Garden’s vegetables.

The Eco House will not remain stationary, however. When it was built it was equipped with wheels and a trailer hitch, so that it could be taken to a wide variety of locations and events. Interactive displays will be set up inside, allowing visitors to interact with the many facets of sustainability.

But Kent Roosevelt’s plans do not end here. They hope to bring sustainability and environmentalism to the classroom by integrating the Eco House and the Hoop House into their curriculum. They also hope to be the first high-school in Ohio to certify environmental science students with the Ohio EPA’s Credible Data Program, which would allow students to monitor the water quality of local creeks and submit their findings to the EPA.

The enthusiasm and creativity that the hard-working Kent Roosevelt staff and students have brought to the sustainability project is inspiring. With SEE’s assistance, they will continue their efforts, the influence of which will reach beyond the bounds of their school, and effect the entire community.