Students spruce up the recycling center at Jesuit High School.
Students spruce up the recycling center at Jesuit High School.

Federal environmental quality and education officials have named Jesuit High School in Portland a model when it comes to sustainable operations.

Last year, Jesuit received the federal recognition for teaching sustainability. This year, the government is lauding how the school has reduced environmental impacts.  

Jesuit staff and students collect many materials for recycling and strives to use durable dishware for faculty and staff. Jesuit also made strides in the area of energy usage per student and student and faculty commuting via alternative forms of transit has increased. A recent campaign urged motorists waiting on campus to shut down their engines.

"We are especially proud that our students and staff have changed our behavior and institutional practices in order to make a lighter imprint on the earth,” said Paul Hogan, principal of the school in Southwest Portland. “Jesuit students recognize that sustainable human and natural development is a pressing existential issue, and they are determined to make a difference.”

Hogan says students “want to be leaders of a healthier planet, and they plan to tread lightly as make their path."

Jennie Cournia, science teacher and chair of the school's sustainability committee, says the school has documented what it does and initiated conversations about what can be done better.

“Auditing the school's energy use, custodial and maintenance practices, as well as student/staff behavior has increased our awareness of areas on campus that need work and improvement,” Cournia says. “We look forward to continuing this process. This award serves as a milestone for us in our journey toward better stewardship of God's creation."

Jesuit is one of 48 schools in the nation to earn the recognition. State education departments did the nominating.