On Campus

Green commuters rally

In their commutes to and from school, 169 Upper School (US) students and faculty members traveled a total of 4,893 eco-friendly miles to participate in a Green Commute Week led by English Teacher Susie Bonsey’s Rebel Writers class and the Eco-Reps.
The goal of the one-week project, which lasted from May 17 to 24, was to alter the common modes of transportation at the US to encompass greener methods, such as walking, biking, carpooling, riding the school bus, or taking public transportation to school, according to a What’s Happening email from the Eco-Reps.
Students and faculty who participated logged their means of getting to school, their name, and their grade at a station in the school’s entryway each morning and were invited to email photos of their commutes to be posted on the Green Commute blog (greencommuteweek.blogspot.com) and Instagram (@greencommuteweek) as well as the Eco-Reps’ Instagram (@ecobbns).
Participants also recorded the length of their commutes on a Google Form so that the Rebel Writers class could later calculate how many miles each grade traveled overall. The sophomores recorded the most eco-friendly miles with 1,776, surpassing the freshmen’s 1,287 miles, the juniors’ 1,030, the faculty’s 618, and the seniors’ 182.
The event was a collaboration between the Eco-Reps and Ms. Bonsey’s Rebel Writers class, a junior English elective with a focus on literature that challenges social, political, religious, and literary traditions. As an end-of-year project, Ms. Bonsey asked her class to devise ways to “challenge the status quo” at the US by identifying an aspect of the school community they wanted to change.
“[I wanted] to help my students better understand the risks brave writers take in unsettling old habits of thinking and also to help them believe in their own capacity to effect change,” Ms. Bonsey said.
Class members suggested a number of ideas, such as encouraging people in the community to stop using social media for a certain amount of time or creating spaces for different students to express opposite political views. However, the class ultimately voted for the proposal of Victoria Glynn ’18—promoting commutes to school that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions—because it was most feasible, Rebel Writers student Emily McKinley ’18 said.
Victoria and Ms. Bonsey then emailed the Eco-Reps in hopes of enlisting their help to extend this project to the entire US. The Eco-Reps agreed to spread the word with a What’s Happening email to the community.
“The ultimate goal of [Green Commute Week] was to try to change the community’s attitude towards commuting, urging people to do something for the environment,” Victoria said. “Generally, we just wanted to get as many people in the school involved in the event—we appreciated all levels of participation.”
As a reward for the large participation, Upper School Director Geoff Theobald held an ice cream party on the Friday of exam week, granting sophomores the first spots in line since they recorded the highest number of hours.
Elise Donovan ’20 said the Green Commute Week encouraged her to adopt another way to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle beyond using the solar panels already installed at her home.
Eve Fantozzi ’20 added that the week showed her how simple it is to make a positive contribution to the environment.
“Carpooling with a few other people from my town allowed for there to be [fewer] cars on the road, which gave me an opportunity to make an impact without having to really go out of my way,” she said.

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