by Eileen Weber
The Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School (LOLMS) was recently acknowledged for their green initiatives in the School of Future Design Competition. On May 1st, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Council of Education Facility Planners International Foundation (CEFPI) sponsored the event as well as the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the American Institute of Architects along with over 30 associations and private companies. They announced the winners of the competition, which kicks off at the beginning of the school year, in Washington, D.C.
Students from across the country participated in the competition. Given the task to redesign their school in an environmentally friendly way, they were judged on sustainability, technology and community involvement in their projects. The event was part of School Building Week from April 27th through May 1st.
"Successful schools build successful communities." said Sue Robertson, CEFPI president in the company’s press release dated the last day of the competition. "Today's students, tomorrow's green builders, are committed to creating healthy, high performing schools and communities. Let's supply them with all the tools they need to improve the places where children learn. And then, let's really listen to them—because they have some really good ideas!"
This year, the LOLMS students presented a geodesic dome housing a roof deck area with bicycles to provide “pedal power” for the building’s electricity. They focused on having a school that could run in any weather condition as well as being powered off the grid. The dome concept gave way to each classroom surrounding a central courtyard. And behind each classroom, there was a garden in which the food that was grown from it could be used as a teaching tool.
All of the submitted project models are made from recycled materials. LOLMS received an Award of Commendation and $500.
“We came into this competition three years ago and won first place nationally,” said Jennifer Caffrey, Technology Education Teacher and the school’s mentor for the competition. “This year, everyone caught up because we had really raised the bar. Now, we’re going to have to break our own bar for next year. The kids are already fired up.”
First place and a prize winning of $2,000 went to Imago Dei Middle School in Tucson, AZ. Explorer Middle School in Mukilteo, WA, received second place winning $1,500 and third place was a tie between Seneca Middle School, Macomb, MI, and the Gereau Center, Rocky Mount, VA. They both received $1,000. Honorable mention also went to Charles Hart Middle School, Washington, D.C.
“It was difficult for the 21-person jury to decide on the six regional teams that came to the finals,” said Barbara Worth, Director of Strategic & Private Development for CEFPI. “When each of the teams was asked what was the best part of the competition, they answered ‘teamwork’. That isn’t something that middle schoolers typically think about.”
“The true reward,” said Caffrey, “is the whole experience. When we got the check, we thought, ‘Wow, we get money out of this too?’”
The School of the Future Design Competition kicks off each year in September. Each student team is required to submit a project model made from recycled materials, a short video or presentation, and a 750-word narrative description explaining the planning process and rationale behind their project.
“These kids are simply amazing,” said Worth. “This age group ca be really disengaged from learning.”
For more information about the project or if you’d like your school to participate, click here to visit the CEFPI web site.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Caffrey.