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Go Green: Irondequoit High School summer program

Summer school for these Irondequoit students goes beyond the classroom.  They're constructing green walls to grow radishes, beets and spinach, as well as a green roof to conserve energy.

"It's hands on," said Cameron Thompson, who will enter the 10th grade in the fall.  "You can like actually get in there and, you know, do something.  I like that, it's pretty cool."

As they get caught up on math and science requirements, they're also learning how to see the world around them in a different way.  "After we built the wall and the roof I really thought about it and I actually went home to my Mom and told her that we should do something like this because I think it's really cool," said Alyssa Burton, who will also enter the 10th grade this fall.

It's not just the students who are energized.  Their teachers are inspired as well.  "We have the oppoturnity to develop a program that we can bring in a new technology, like green technologies, green walls, things like that," said Kevin Knopf, an Irondequoit teacher who has mentored the summer program for the last nine years.

Grants from the West Irondequoit Foundation and the Farash Foundation are funding the program.  Green Living Technologies International, a company founded by former teacher and current Irondequoit resident George Irwin, has provided the materials and guidance.  Irondequoit High School Principal Patrick McCue said the the summer course helps address one of the School District's priorities.  "It's been a great experience for the kids and we're looking to use it as sort of a learning lab for moving into the regular school year curriculum as well," he said.

As part of their curriculum, the students are designing a green pavilion that would be constructed between the school's baseball and football fields, adding a permanent sustainable structure to the campus.  Changing their environment for the better has motivated these students, and opened the door for more green innovation.  "It would be great if this could grab a hold and move to a larger scale," said Knopf.  "I'd love to see the roof of Irondequoit High School be green and the wall be green.  There's something to be said about a kid walking into the lunchroom and knowing that the lettuce that they ate in their salad came from the walls outside their class."
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