AP Environmental Science teacher Kandi Wojtysiak, Senior Katie Eberle and English teacher Jan Carteaux are shining a light on environmental issues through NDP’s new “Friends of the Earth Club.” The club plans on meeting one or two Fridays each month during break in room 203, and students can contact any of the people listed above through their school emails to join. 

Mrs. Wojtysiak was inspired to start the club by her interest in environmental activism and her AP Environmental Science class, a new course added to NDP’s curriculum this year. Teaching the class is “making [her] more aware of the timely issues,” said Wojtysiak. 

This has motivated her to ban single-use plastics, such as water bottles and plastic bags, in her classroom in an effort to inform students. She hopes to “make students more aware of problems with the use of single-use plastics” as well as other environmental issues affecting the world today. 

Club members have formed committees, each of which is aimed at tackling a different environmental issue impacting NDP’s students. One committee, for example, wants to work with the King family—who provides school lunch—to possibly replace plastic straws or add an option to use reusable cups for water or smoothies. 

In addition, a committee of freshmen is looking into opportunities for fundraising to go toward an environmental charity second semester. One of the most promising committees, the Recycling Committee, has a primary goal of improving recycling practices at Notre Dame Prep. 

The Recycling Committee includes seniors Samantha Wetherell, Allie Rances, Sophie O’Shei and Vanessa Valbuena. First of all, they aim to make “signs to educate students about what is or isn’t safe to recycle,” said Wetherell, and to post them near garbage and recycling bins. These signs should help inform students and will decrease instances of contamination in recycling bins as well as litter, both of which are widespread issues on campus. 

In addition, the Recycling Committee intends to work with Director of Student Activities Brenda Beers and other members of administration to possibly rearrange the garbage and recycling bins to make them more accessible for students. Placing garbage and recycling bins side-by-side should make students more likely to use the correct bin when disposing of their waste. Currently, the bins are scattered around campus, making students more likely to use the incorrect bin when it is closer to them. 

Changing the bins themselves could also be part of the solution. Since Coca-Cola is one of NDP’s sponsors, Beers believes a new recycling system through their products could be effective, though none of these ideas have been discussed officially. “Recycling bins with smaller openings to fit only plastic bottles and other recyclable items” will help NDP develop more effective recycling habits, said Beers. Overall, she is excited to see what “Friends of the Earth” will be able to accomplish. 

Throughout the 2019-2020 school year, the “Friends of the Earth Club” should become an important part of NDP’s community as it works to make Notre Dame Prep a more environmentally conscious school.