By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
Jennifer Zimmerman teaches her students at St. James School in the Highlands that each one of them can impact the environment with simple actions.
These simple actions include turning off classroom lights, encouraging their parents to turn their engines off in carpool, recycling and simply consuming less.
“We need to realize how precious this Earth is and what a gift we’ve been given. We need to take care of it and not take it for granted,” said Zimmerman, St. James’ principal.
In years past, the school eliminated Styrofoam in the cafeteria and instituted a recycling policy. School leaders have recently increased their efforts by composting food from the cafeteria and including the school’s Green Team in the school’s efforts.
Students in third- to eighth-grade have joined the Green Team, which is offered as an elective class. The Green Team tends to the school’s garden adjacent to the church.
Gus Maggard, an eighth-grader at St. James, said he joined the school’s Green Team because he enjoys planting and doing yard work and said “the world will be dead if we don’t take care of it.”
“It’s important to take care of the Earth. When I have kids I want them to have a good place to live,” he said.
Zimmerman said the school’s efforts stem from Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’ ” (“On Care for Our Common Home”).
St. James is also hoping to educate parents. Parents were invited by David Doll, a parishioner of St. James and the parish’s former business manager, to get involved in promoting a clean energy resolution for Metro Louisville. Several attended a meeting on the subject last month, said Doll, who is also a member of the Sierra Club.
Doll said in a letter to parents, Pope Francis’ call to care for the environment “has reverberated around the world, influencing Catholics and non-Catholics alike. We need to grab this opportunity and push forward.”
What struck Doll when he read “Laudato Si,’ ” was the urgency, he said in an interview earlier this month.“We need to not only change our lifestyle, but we really need a change of heart.”
The resolution, in part, would call for 100 percent renewable energy for city operations by 2030, and for the entire community by 2035. It also calls for the revision of building codes for new construction to require energy efficiency.
Zimmerman said the proposed resolution is in step with what she and the faculty have been teaching students about concerns facing the environment.
Doll said David James, Metro Council president, supports the measure and has presented it to the Metro Council for consideration. It is currently before the Parks and Sustainability Committee.