The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School


The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School


The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School


Pushing for Change: The Green Team’s Impact on School Sustainability

Kimberly McGrath
The Green Team meets with the back kitchen staff to discuss eco-friendly alternatives for Gables.

With an ambitious vision, the Parent Teacher Student Association Green Team has a collaboration uniting its efforts to turn Coral Gables Senior High into a more environmentally friendly school. With the team aspiring to renew the campus in the following six categories: waste reduction, water conservation, energy efficiency, alternative transportation, air quality and communications, they reflects the school’s commitment to improve sustainability methods in drawing awareness. 

The Green Team, derived from the Project Green Organization born from the Aspen Challenge, started last year to include the PTSA in efforts to make Gables more environmentally sustainable. With initiatives being student-driven, the group has strived to support Gables in every way possible, while creating a collaborative spirit on campus. Ideally, with many student groups touching on green initiatives, seeing a “Green Coalition” would help more student groups work collaboratively.

Seniors Christian Guevara and Viktoria Flores monitor the CAVS Share Table during lunch to help reduce food waste.

With a commitment to preserving excellence, the team aspires to obtain the prestigious Gold Apple Award. Every three years, the school has to renew its Green Apple school award as part of the Florida Department of Education’s Green School Designation committed to protecting natural resources around Florida. By enacting its environmental procedures, the program encourages high schools to improve their performance.

While auditing the school, the Green Team created a detailed report that highlights the positive initiatives undertaken by students, teachers and administrators, showcasing their dedicated efforts towards sustainability. Allowing future goals to be set, the commitment to become eco-friendly will allow Gables to access resources such as helping teach students and staff how to lower power, water and waste bills. Additionally, designated schools are also eligible to apply to be a Florida Department of Education nominee for the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools award.

Culinary teacher Ms. Vera uses the foods organically grown in her garden in her students’ meals.

Many teachers and administrators across the school find ways to contribute to transforming Gables. Culinary teacher Ms. Vera has her own garden in which she uses organic fruits and vegetables in her class, an alternative to store-bought items.

“We have an organic, sustainable garden since 2013 that waters itself with the sprinklers in the back of the classroom. Each year, we plan what we harvest because we incorporate the foods in our classes for cooking. My favorite part of the garden is how I have full control of what the garden comes in contact with, and I make sure no pesticides or harmful sprays get used in the garden,” Ms. Vera said. 

Starting their journey this year, one of the main goals the Green Team has in mind is to expand towards other aspects of sustainability. With food trays already made from biodegradable cartons, the group believes that using them for soil health will further aid their mission in the back-of-kitchen composting initiative. They also plan on adding recycling bins during games to expand reach into the sports scene. Having the audience throw their waste at the right spot is just an example of the plethora of small eco-friendly steps towards a new green vision the team has created.

​​”No matter where you are or where you come from, we can all play a part. We can all learn from initiatives like the PTSA Green Team, and we can learn how to compost and recycle. While this is only on a school level, I think that it kind of shows us as people how to implement green and show we care for our environment, which can later be progressed throughout our life and community,” senior Gabriela McGrath Moreira said.

Besides looking from an environmental standpoint, the team hopes to initiate renewable energy projects such as installing electric vehicle chargers, small solar installations and lobbying the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Board for electric buses.

The back-of-kitchen staff meet together to discuss biodegradable food trays and composting options. (Kimberly McGrath)

Starting with waste reduction, the school promotes recycling bins and biodegradable food trays. Gables also plans to regulate water conservation, overall decreasing the amount of water flow in the 6000 building by 50%. Hoping to improve air quality, the team has outlined a filter cleaning schedule and pushed to enforce a stricter no-smoking policy.

To better spread the message and recruit more involved students, the team will be featured in regular PTSA newsletters, the morning announcements and the Gables website.

“We are 100% aiming this year to attain an award for our green initiatives, which is the Green Apple, which is trying to earn the Gold or Silver Apple. We started a program called the ‘Share Table’ inside the nine-thousand-building cafeteria, which will soon spread to the six-thousand building in around a week. I also believe that I am part of any initiative that makes our school better, anything that is for the environment, and anything that will help create less waste,” Assistant Principal Mr. Martinez said.

Positively impacting Gables, the Green Team contributes by planting trees, ensuring the Cavaliers and administrations’s surroundings are clean and well-maintained. By encouraging reusable items, they help reduce the amount of waste left behind. Improving the cle­anliness of the environment, their joint efforts with the wider school population­ gains them extra backing, help and resources for the extensive projects they plan to fulfill.

“We, through the Green Apple, want to build stronger collaboration between student, staff and teacher groups, so anywhere we can try to encourage and support initiatives like composting or working with the back kitchen staff, working with our custodians, and working with students to come together there is a lot [that can be accomplished]. Your culinary teacher has a garden and is starting composting, but no one knew that [until we did this green audit],” Kimberly McGrath Moreira said.

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About the Contributor
Valentina Gomez
Valentina Gomez, CavsConnect Staff Writer
Valentina Gomez is a freshman in the International Baccalaureate program in Gables. Although it may be her first year in CavsConnect, she is looking forward to a fun academic year. She enjoys playing sports she is bad at. When you see her, she is talking or laughing with her friends. She would say she speaks three languages but putting her pride apart, she speaks two languages and a half. The other half is French. Her favorite color is any shade of pink. She loves winter along with Christmas. Most of the time, you will see her with her AirPods on full volume listening to Brent Faiyaz or Frank Ocean. When she feels like it she paints, which probably happens once a year.
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