Sustainability Week 2022

Solebury School and the student-run Solebury Environmental Action Corps (SEAC) aim to make sustainability an integral part of the Solebury experience by assuring that all sustainability initiatives are a coordinated effort. In support of this effort, SEAC hosted Sustainability Week from April 4 - 8.

The goal of sustainability week this year was to introduce solutions to climate issues to the Solebury community. Since it's so easy to fall into climate futility, we brought in speakers who are currently working on solutions such as bioplastics and organic no-till agriculture. It was also important that we get the entire community engaged in making our campus more sustainable. This is why we planned the community event where students and staff could be involved in many different workshops. Leel Dias ’23


Monday

Matt Wattson P’23 ’25 is a professor at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand where he is currently focused on the decarbonization of heavy industry. He joined our honors chemistry class to discuss the research he leads to replace the use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas with renewably generated electricity in heavy industry. He specifically talked about steel and cement manufacturing, which are each responsible for about 8% of global man-made CO2 emissions. Matt shared that by using renewably generated electricity, it’s possible to significantly reduce the CO2 emissions related to both steel and cement. 
 

Tuesday

Alida Monaco is a graduate of Harvard College with a B.A. in Environmental Science, Economics, and Public Policy and a minor in Astrophysics. She currently works as a Climate Change Researcher with global consulting and technology services company, ICF International. At ICF She works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for public and private sector clients. She discussed her previous experience working with the Harvard Office for Sustainability, the World Bank, the United Nations, and the World Resources Institute. She also shared information about the rain gardens she helped install on Harvard's campus, a project students are currently working on at Solebury. 

Our biology class was pleased to welcome back organic vegetable farmer Mike Tholis for Sustainability Week. Mike discussed the differences between no-till and till farming and gathered soil samples from both types of gardens on campus. During the presentation, he added water to simulate erosion, asked the students to share their observations, and discussed the advantages of no-till farming. 
 

Wednesday

Kearni Warren is an author, advocate, and activist. She spoke to the Solebury Environmental Action Corps (SEAC) club about environmental justice and reviewed the 17 principles of environmental justice. A particular issue she focused on during the presentation was trash incineration and the effects it has on the Chester, PA community. She discussed why it is problematic, noting that it’s more expensive than a landfill and the toxic air emissions created are worse than coal. Kearni urged students to educate themselves on where their trash goes, sharing that most people have no idea and that only adds to the problem. 

Samantha Rothman P’24 joined our honors environmental science class to discuss environmental stewardship and land management practices. She shared her family's long history of farming and her path to becoming a farmer. Samantha also talked about the mechanization of farming, explaining how it led to fewer people being needed to farm land. To wrap up the presentation she shared how she started the non-profit, Grow it Green, to educate communities on healthy eating and environmental stewardship. 

Sustainable Shane is an Environmental Influencer who grew up in San Diego where his love for everything sustainable started at a very young age. His passion and purpose to protect our planet have him involved in everything from beach cleanups to volunteering at local environmental organizations to just planting his own garden. 

During assembly, the SEAC club gave a presentation on rainwater management on Solebury’s campus. They discussed some solutions to improve the overall health of our environment and reduce the likelihood of being negatively impacted by flooding in the future. The solutions included converting some mowed areas to meadows, installing rain gardens, and planting a riparian buffer along Primrose Creek. After the presentation, the houses competed in a game of Jeopardy to test what they learned during the presentation. View the presentation here.
 

Friday

Dr. Frank D. Marks is a Meteorologist with the Hurricane Research Division at the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorology Laboratories for NOAA. He talked about what it’s like to fly into hurricanes, sharing that he’s flown into over 70 of them. He discussed and showed images of the different types of planes that fly into hurricanes and how the data collected from those flights are used to make predictions. He encouraged students to look into the various opportunities available with NOAA if they have any interest in this subject.

Josh DeVincenzo is a Senior Instructional Designer and Project Coordinator at Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness. He joined our Spanish class to discuss climate change and disaster preparedness. Josh talked about his focus on developing learning experiences associated with training projects that navigate disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and resilience. He also shared his hopes to create accessible and quality educational programming that benefits the common good at scale, particularly around themes of climate change. He ended the presentation with an activity, allowing students to decide how to respond to different types of disasters. 
 

Tuesday 

After some rescheduling due to weather, Sustainability Week came to a close with various workshops to help make our campus more sustainable. Students had the opportunity to choose from activities such as planting a riparian buffer, planting a rain garden, live staking, learning about composting, constructing beehives, and more!