How to Make NNHS a Leader in Climate Justice

The Newton North High School Climate Advocacy Club is creating a student and teacher organization in order to advise the Principal on climate issues. The Climate Advisory Panel will be formed by a nomination process in Fall 2020 where students and teachers can be both self-nominated and nominated by others.

“Our school is lacking in both the educational side of the issue and physical side of the climate issue, most egregiously on the very important topic of climate justice. Given our position as a school that has traditionally led in academic and social emotional learning, it is our duty to be a leader and an example for ourselves and others in the values and practice of climate justice. ”

The panel’s goals, according to the document developed by the students, are to:

  • Educate peers on climate justice through developing, advising, and observing the revised sustainability curriculum with teachers; organizing Sustainability Day; and more.
  • Oversee and facilitate a strike absence policy.
  • Ensure that Newton North’s infrastructure is as sustainable as possible, specifically by working with the city of Newton and the sustainability director.
  • Incorporate climate justice into all facets of the school.

The panel will be a leader in connecting all the different groups in Newton that work on climate issues: teachers, activists, administrators, and more. If you are interested in being involved with the panel next year in any capacity, please fill out the interest form so we can keep in touch:

Energy: Phase 3 Solar Panel Project – April 2020 Update

Summary of the estimated dates for the Phase 3 solar projects provided by Bill Ferguson, City of Newton Co-Director of Sustainability.

“Three Ameresco roof projects have been completed: Zervas, Ed Center and Fire Station #3 and Fire HQ. The Ed Center is not yet online but will be as soon as a building shut down can be scheduled. We have been holding off on this shut down for fear of disrupting computer systems in the building that are serving a variety of important services during the COVID-19 school shut down period. The two Ameresco solar canopy projects at North High School are on schedule for the summer.

The Macquarie canopy projects are being planned for the summer and the roofs may be done in the fall. Macquarie is working on a revised schedule which I will share with the School Department as soon as it is available. The Macquarie projects are still pending approvals from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. We are hoping that these approvals are not delayed due to COVID 19. At this time we do not expect COVID 19 to delay the construction phase of the projects once all State and utility approvals have been obtained. Ameresco has obtained all of their approvals.

Source:  Facilities Updated to the School Committee on April 27, 2020   

Newton North Reinvigorates Recycling Efforts

Original post from the Green Cart Chronicle  – 

April 9, 2020

In early March, Newton DPW worked with NNHS students and faculty to improve recycling efforts throughout the school. The cafeteria now has recycling bins paired with trash bins. Uniform signage was posted above all trash and recycling bins throughout the school. Check out a student-made video, which is part of an ongoing series about improving recycling at North.

Click on the image to watch the video:

Newton North Recycling Game Show

Student Voice: “How the Climate Crisis has Affected NPS Students”

Public comment by Coral Lin (NNHS Class of 2021) –
School Committee Meeting, Jan 13, 2020

Hi, my name is Coral Lin and I’m a junior at Newton North. First of all, I would like to thank the effort and support from the School Committee and the School Sustainability Work Group to create sustainable standards for our schools. These are important steps that must be taken to tackle the climate crisis here in Newton and set an example for other school systems in the state and country.

Speaking of the climate crisis, I’d like to talk about how this emergency has affected Newton Public Schools students. For an English paper I wrote this fall, I asked my friends how hearing about the “climate crisis” makes them feel, and they told me that it made them feel hopeless, small, scared, overwhelmed, and “like death is upon me.” The other day, my friend at Newton South told me that she overheard a classmate saying, “It doesn’t matter anyways because we’re all going to die because of climate change”. 

My generation is increasingly anxious about the world’s future, but many feel paralyzed into inaction. Can we even blame young people for not wanting to take action against something they feel powerless to solve? Yet, we both have the solutions to solve climate change and also depend on young people to lead help this challenge. This problem could be solved if students were educated not only on the causes and effects of climate change, but how we can work together to find and implement solutions. I urge you to go home and think about how much you and your children, your nieces and nephews, and our Newton students truly know about climate change. Does it make you feel empowered to act, or discouraged? Please contemplate deeply while considering implementing comprehensive K-12 climate education in our schools. Thank you.

“Sustainability Students Revitalize Recycling at North”

Original post from Newton North PTSO – 

Jan 2020

The sustainability classes taught by Ms. Anndy Dannenberg  and Ms. Kathryn Teissier are working with School Council to revitalize and promote recycling at Newton North. Changes in the international market for recycled American goods are pushing Newton citizens, including students, to reassess their current recycling habits and learn new guidelines. Read more here.

Students and staff do recycle at Newton North. According to Principal Henry Turner, contrary to popular belief, “Trucks take away recycling from North three to four times per week.” Unfortunately, however, student and staff recycling efforts are often thwarted by contamination, causing batches of recycled material to end up in the trash. The City of Newton is promoting proper recycling using a video starring Mayor Ruthanne Fuller and expanded information on the city’s website. Waneta Trabert, sustainable materials management director, and her waste management team at City Hall have designed materials (see below) for use throughout the schools so that students K-12 are getting a consistent message.
At Newton North, sustainability students are also working to promote informed recycling. “‘Wishcycling’ won’t work,” stated Ms. Dannenberg, “We have to recycle less, avoiding contamination, in order to recycle more. When in doubt, throw it out.” Added Ms. Dannenberg,
“Wishcycling is responsible for a whole lot of the contamination in the recycling stream, and can result in complete rejection of our recyclables by buyers. In too many cases, recyclable materials can’t actually be recycled because they are contaminated by either materials that need to be recycled in a different stream (e.g. plastic grocery bags, shredded paper) or can’t be recycled at all (liquids, food, prescription pill bottles).”
The Sustainability Club planned and hosted Sustainability Day on November 26, 2019, to educate students about the the do’s and don’ts of recycling. Guest speakers and exhibitors included the City of Newton Departments of Transportation and Waste Management, Bike Newton, Safe Routes to School, and Grad Bag, an organization that spruces up gently used dorm items for students entering college. See photos on the NNHS PTSO Facebook page.

Recycling Signage for Newton schools

“North Students Organize Local March, Attend Boston Climate Strike”

Original post from The Newtonite – 

By Dea Cela, December 17, 2019

North students organized and marched to Newton City Hall and joined the Boston Climate Strike on Friday, Dec. 6. Students went to downtown Boston and the statehouse to protest. 

“The single most important thing students can do at the local level is to email their city councilors to express support for climate action policies and to show up to city council meetings and hearings,” said senior Dina Gorelik, a member of the Climate Advocacy Club, which organized the Newton Climate Strike. 

Gorelik added that the goal of the climate strike was to raise awareness surrounding climate change and to make the club’s goals known to the Mayor Ruthanne Fuller. 

Students missed school to encourage legislators to take immediate action against climate change and fight for a Massachusetts Green New Deal. According to a Massachusetts Climate Strike press release, protestors from around the state met at Copley Square and marched to the statehouse, pushing for bills advocating for the elimination of fossil fuels and declaring a Climate Emergency.

This is the second climate strike of the school year, following the last on Sept. 20.

Newton North Sustainability Day 2019

The first Newton North Sustainability Day was a huge success on Nov 26th. The event was an initiative of the NNHS Sustainability Program, lead by Anndy Dannenberg and  Kathryn Teissier du Cros, and co-sponsored by NNHS Center for Civic Engagement and Service, Climate Advocacy Club and NNHS Next Gen Voices Club.

The day was truly a success in engaging hundreds of our students in learning more about local efforts to promote sustainable solutions. In addition to hearing from speakers in the public and private sectors, students appreciated the opportunity to speak to you directly and understand how organizations like Green Newton are effectively advocating and advancing our goals to create a more sustainable Newton.

– Alison Montague, Program Coordinator – NNHS Center for Civic Engagement and Service (CCES)

The day included speakers from the City of Newton Departments of Transportation and Waste Management, Bike Newton , Newton Safe Routes to School, State Sreet Bank. Greener U, Bentley University, University of Vermont, WSP USA Planning, Thread ED, Newton City Councilors and more…

Local environmental organizations had tables on Main Street, including Green Newton School Connections,  Cradles to Crayons MassachusettsNewton Community FarmThe Food Project, and Newton Recycling.

And the NNHS Jubilee Singers gave a special concert focused on Social Justice. Video by Terry Yoffie

More images at the NNHS Center for Civic Engagement and Service Facebook page


Energy: Phase 3 Solar Panel Project – November Update

Summary  of the estimated dates of construction of Phase 3 Solar Panel Project at Newton schools. Please note that dates are still subject to change depending upon a number of factors.

Source:  Facilities Updated to the School Committee on Nov 18, 2019   

1. Zervas and Education Center roof projects have started and will be completed by the end of the year.

2. North High School parking canopies. There are two canopies being constructed, one at Lowell Avenue and one at Walnut Street. This will be done in two phases with foundation work done mostly during the April 2020 School Break and the installation of the canopies during the summer. This proposed schedule should greatly minimize alternative parking as was originally foreseen.
– The foundations will be built over the spring break week. The Lowell Ave work will spill over into the two weeks after spring break. The Walnut Street work will be done before students
return from spring break. There’s a plan for alternative parking for these two spillover weeks.
– The canopies and solar panels will be erected during the summer 2020 and alternative parking is not anticipated at this point.

3. Cabot, Carr, and Angier roof projects are currently schedule for the spring. A specific schedule will be provided when available. These roof projects will be done with minimal disruption to school activities. Material will be craned to the roofs on a Saturday and will be out of the way once they are on the roof. Materials will be on site for a few days before craning but we will coordinate with the Facilities Department to place these materials in an acceptable location while they wait for craning.

4. Education Center parking canopies are planned for the spring.

According to Mayor Fuller, “Solar panels are currently being installed on the roof of
the Zervas Elementary School. When the solar array comes online in December, it will provide 42 percent of the school’s electricity.”

Zervas Solar Panels 2019

Climate Strike: “Strike from School to Help Fight Climate Crisis”

Original post from The Newtownite – 

If we have just 11 years left until climate change’s damage becomes irreversible, as stated by the International Panel on Climate Change, let’s cut to the chase: now is not the time for being ambivalent, exhausted, or lukewarm. If our climate doesn’t exist, we don’t. So strike on Sept. 20 for our future.

The Global Climate Strikes are a movement started by Swedish teenager and climate activist Greta Thunberg. She has been striking in front of Swedish Parliament and missing school every Friday since Aug. 2018. Thunberg has since ignited the flame of a youth-led climate movement, which encompasses strikes around the world. On September 20, students and adults around the world are preparing to congregate outside of statehouses, city halls, schools, and workplaces to demand a change.

The goal of the Massachusetts Climate Strike is to push government leaders to enact a Green New Deal for Massachusetts and beyond. Attendees are set to rally at Boston City Hall at 9 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 20, before a march to the Massachusetts State House.

When I attended my first climate strike last spring, I too was ambivalent, exhausted, and lukewarm. But demonstrating next to the statehouse with hundreds of students changed something in me. All the students on strike participated in 12 minutes of silence to represent the years we have left to make change. A year later, that number is 11.

Those 12 minutes were enough to make me think of all the work we must do, all the  politicians unwilling to acknowledge the crisis in front of us, and all the people fleeing their countries’ climate-induced disasters. These thoughts are a lot for one person to have, but during that strike, I looked out at the crowd and saw the other furrowed brows behind Sharpie-scrawled signs. This movement isn’t just me and you. It must be everyone.

I bet you’re thinking, “I’m ambivalent, exhausted, and lukewarm!” Then you are the perfect person to strike for the climate on Sept. 20. And if you’re looking at this and thinking, “What is the Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20?” you’re the perfect person to strike for the climate on Sept. 20. Because, like I said, the movement is everyone.

This strike, with your participation, could become the most widely-attended in all of world history. So if you are unsure about whether to attend, imagine telling your kids that you turned down an invitation to the biggest strike in world history. This event is one for the textbooks.

And yes, the climate strike necessitates skipping school. Maybe you’ve been preparing for that big test on the 20th and don’t want to miss it. In the future, kids may not be able to go to school because their homes will be flooded, the trees will be charred, and the polluted air won’t permit that crisp fall walk to school. So miss your test and strike for them.

The Global Climate Strikes are just the start of our journey—a journey towards a Green New Deal and a carbon-neutral future. Another way to fight for this liveable world is by joining the Sunrise Movement. Sunrise is a youth-led organization fighting the climate crisis. It has hubs all around the country, including an active branch in Boston. To join the movement, students at North can join the new Climate Advocacy Club as a local way to make a global impact.

“This is not just young people being sick of politicians,” Thunberg said at an event in London last April. “It’s an existential crisis. It’s something that will affect the future of our civilization. It’s not just a movement. It’s a crisis and we must act accordingly.”

When Thunberg said to the 2019 World Economic Forum that our house is on fire, she did not mean the house down the street. She meant our house, our world, is burning right here, right now, and if we don’t rally the masses, our home will be destroyed forever.

By Naomi Goldstein, 09/13/19

Come Hear What Newton Students are Doing for the Environment on May 20

Please join Students for a Greener World showing how they are contributing to the sustainability of Newton and beyond. Highlighted will be:

  • Angier Elementary School’s Cafeteria Recycling & Composting
  • Oak Hill Middle School’s Global Goals Exhibition
  • Newton South High School’s Capstone Healthy Landscaping Project
  • Newton North High School’s Student Climate March
  • SGW’s community environmental outreach

Following these presentation and the Students for a Greener World (SGW) Wild Boar Awards, Green Newton will present the 2019 Green Newton Environmental Leadership Awards to the following recipients:

  • Individual: Andy Gluck
  • Local Organization: The Newton Citizens Commission on Energy
  • City Department:  Newton’s Public Buildings Department and Design Review Committee
  • Green Newton Special Appreciation Award: Ira Krepchin


Event: Monday, May 20 at 7pm at the Newton Free Library (330 Homer St. Newton)

From: Green Newton