Green Team Plans to Change the Future of Sustainability at MHS


Tim Berto

Green Team is looking to revive the environmental sustainability movement at MHS. Pictured: Daphne Wu, Elaina Jones, Destiny Mack, Kirin Raval, Amalia Morner, Audrey Wegener, Jace Bauer, Jack Giles, Braden Novak, Stephen Nemr, Mike Roach, Celeste Li, Joseline Escamilla, Gabe Lorman, Madison Xiao, Yale Huang, Nate White, Molly Warholic, David Hurd.

Alexa Williams

Until now, Middleton High School’s environmental sustainability movement has been divided between several clubs and a Student Council committee. This year, that’s changing.

Among dozens of student organizations, it’s easy to forget the many clubs that comprised MHS’ environmental movement, but this school year, those clubs no longer exist. Now, they are part of Green Team.

Green Team is a coalition of our school’s environmental initiatives, advised by Ms. Williams, Mr. Berto, and Ms. Vogel. Within it are three committees: Waste Management and Reduction, Sustainability, and Garden. On fundraising initiatives and large-scale projects, the committees will work together. The coalition will also pursue individual goals, such as the Garden committee’s plant sale project in the spring and the Waste Management and Reduction committee’s plastic bag fundraiser.

A major reason for Green Team’s formation was the inefficiency created by an isolated handful of clubs working towards the same purpose at different paces.

“The disorganization of all of the clubs and not really having any way to work together is what brought us together . . . If you have all these people doing a bunch of things, you’re never going to get anything done,” said Katie Stockhausen, 10, a representative from Green Team’s garden committee.

Through Green Team, environmental activists at MHS hope to unify the movement. 

Another key concern was participation – a lack of it. Daphne Wu, the head of Student Council’s Environmental Committee and a representative for Green Team’s Sustainability Committee, is hoping that Green Team will cause a “revival” of pro-environmental sentiment.

“Last year, there were ten, fifteen kids . . . most of them were seniors,” Wu said. This year, there were more than sixty sign-ups.

A potential strengthening of the environmental movement comes at a critical time for the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, as it prepares to undertake development at MHS and Pope Farm Elementary School. These projects present opportunities to incorporate more sustainability practices. MHS is currently ranked #10 out of 517 high schools in academics by the US News and World Report. With an increased focus on sustainability, it could become a pioneer in that area, as well.

“If we can make ourselves a leader in sustainability, I think a lot of people would agree that that is the best step for us to move forward,” said Wu.

Green Team’s name comes from that goal, said Elaina Jones, the representative from the Waste Management and Reduction committee. Many other schools in Wisconsin districts have their own “green teams,” and MHS is looking to join and inspire a statewide community of students working towards sustainability.

As of now, Green Team’s focus is on its resolution to address sustainability. The resolution proposes 100% renewable energy by 2030, with intermediate milestones in energy use, waste, and education. It is currently in the drafting stages, but Green Team is looking to get it passed by the school board by November 2019. 

“Once the resolution is passed, it will give us something to work towards,” Wu said. 

Though still a work in progress, Green Team is aiming to make sustainability a top priority for the school district. In Daphne Wu’s words, “a top, top priority.” 

“I think that our generation is the generation that’s going to be most impacted by climate change, and I thought “wow we really aren’t doing enough” because if the UN [United Nations] reports are true that we only have 10 years before climate change is irreversible, we have to be doing as much as we can to help with the global effort. We can’t just sit back and worry about our own things. We need to worry about the environment more,” Wu said.

Though plans are yet to be solidified, Green Team is planning to play a substantial role in spreading information and awareness surrounding sustainability and individual action.

“It’s hard to know what to do sometimes, especially in your personal life, because climate change, if you think about that, it’s such a huge, huge problem, very global, and you’re like ‘oh, well, that’s really important. I don’t know, I’ll turn off the lights when I leave the room,’ but you don’t actually know what to do,” said Jones.

By providing the community with the resources to become educated on issues such as climate change, Green Team hopes to build the confidence and skills necessary for students to address environmental issues in their everyday lives.

“Even if all you do is read one article and say, ‘You know what? I’m going to try to do this one thing just to be a little bit kinder to our environment,’ – whether that be turning the lights off or recycling a bit more each day. It doesn’t have to be big . . . If everyone starts doing those little things to help our environment, we’re going to make so much progress,” said Stockhausen. “You don’t have to be part of an environmental club to try to solve problems and help the environment. You can do that any time you want.”