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Laudato Si and the Greening of Marist School, Atlanta
By Fr. John Harhager, SM (Story from Today's Marists Spring 2016 Edition)

Marist School, Atlanta
Look what I found in the creek!

Marist School in Atlanta began a school-wide green initiative in 2009 creating "The Terra Project: Marist Blue and Gold Make Green."

Since the program began, the school has taken many steps towards greening the physical plant and campus, introducing environmental issues into the curriculum, and generally educating students about care for creation.

Both the course on "Environmental Science" as well as the Environmental Club have been instrumental in "greening" the campus and have provided numerous opportunities for students to get involved in the process.

Since Pope Francis published his encyclical Laudato Si last May, his words are reminding students and all of us of the importance of caring for the Earth, and they affirmed the efforts already adopted by the school community which include recycling, composting, and reducing waste.

Just this fall the Environmental Science students researched and prepared project proposals for Marist campus which included completing restoration and planting work alongside Nancy Creek, planting pollinator gardens, removing invasive species, and installing a "Bug Hotel" to provide habitat and food for beneficial insects.

Marist Father Ralph Olek, middle school English teacher at Marist School in Atlanta, accepts award as outstanding employee of the year.
The Nancy Creek Clean Up Crew

Furthermore, the Environment Club has hosted two creek cleanups and a campus cleanup since August. The school also recently received a donation of 200 tree seedlings from Trees Atlanta, a local non-profit dedicated to preserving greenspace in the Atlanta area. All the trees have now been planted along the riparian buffer of the creek which runs through the campus.

This year, for Lent, sustainability has become the focus, and students are now calling the 40-day period "EnviroLent" Student volunteers have worked with the school's Director of Sustainability and the Campus Ministry department to put together programs to last all forty days of Lent. Each school day begins with a quote from Laudato Si followed by a prayer based on the same theme.

Posters and signs around the school address issues such as access to clean water and the accumulation of waste, challenging students to make better choices when it comes to buying water bottles or anything with wasteful packaging. New signage in the cafeteria continues to educate students about what can be recycled and composted. In addition, food services continue to offer locally sourced food, and at the lunch checkout, students have the option to donate a dollar toward Catholic Relief Services.

Senior Andrea Marenco says, "The best part of working on "EnviroLent" is seeing the environmental efforts we began last year launch into action. This burst of environmental enthusiasm on campus is hard to miss. Considering that an American's average carbon footprint is 20 tons per year, if even one student is inspired to buy a disposable water bottle or sort his or her lunch into 'compostable,' 'recyclable' and 'trash' we will have succeeded."

For more information, please contact Amelia Luke, Director of Sustainability at

About Marist School
Marist School in Atlanta, which was founded in 1901, is an independent, Catholic, college-preparatory day school enrolling approximately 1,042 boys and girls in grades seven through 12. It is owned and operated by the Society of Mary (Marists).