In 2009, Irvington was recognized as "America's Greenest School" in a competition sponsored by IC Bus Company. Irvington has established a number of student led environmental clubs, created a "Green Commissioner" position in student government, and created grade-level wide environmental service-learning projects. Between 2007-2009, Irvington has diverted over 100,000 pounds of e-waste from landfills, installed solar panels, worked to increase energy efficiency, hosted a community green fair and more.
Irvington High School won a $2900 grant from the Altamont Education Advisory Board to expand food scrap diversion. In 2008, Irvington pioneered food scrap diversion withcommercial green waste composting from its kitchen galley. The kitchen staff diverts food scraps, food soiled cardboard, waxed cardboard and other organic materials into Allied Waste's commercial composting system. The Altamont Education Advisory Board Grant will allow Irvington to expand the program so that students may also compost food scraps.
Irvington's grant was written by 11th grade student Alex Chung. In the application, Chung proposes to put green waste bins in the cafeteria and the 20 classrooms with the highest portion of food scraps identified through waste audits. Chung's goal is to divert 70% of all compostables within six months of implementation.
Irvington plans to use classroom presentations and social media to get the word out about the importance of food scrap diversion and to post updates about the project to the school's website.
Irvington High School's Conservatory Theatre recently finished a performance run of Brian Dykstra's play, Clean Alternatives, which delves into the conflicting human desires for power, love, and money. The show opens with Jackie (played by Melissa Caban) being wooed by corporate representiatives Cutter and Slate (Victor Mattison & Marc Hess) as they attempt to convince her to trade her family business's pollution credits for cash and power. By the end, a toxic love triangle of power, love and money unfurls through a show peppered with tense dialogue and spoken-word style monologues that reveals the characters' internal and interpersonal tensions- forcing the audience to consider their own sets of values.
Directed by Maia Steward, the show toured Bay Area venues to enthusiastic audiences including the 1st spring performance at Irvington High School's newly established Black Box Theatre. Nearly 500 people saw the show at small venue, intimate theatre spaces.
- May 20 & 21- Irvington High School Black Box Theatre, Fremont, CA
- May 22- Mars Bar and Restaurant, San Francisco, CA
- May 23- Bronco Billy's Pizza Dinner Theatre, Fremont, CA
- May 27- Irvington High School Black Box Theatre, Fremont, CA
I chose Clean Alternative for IHS because I was looking for a style that would challenge the students to think of theatre in a different way. Theatre is often pigeon holed into merely a form of entertainment at the high school level This is often because we choose musicals written between the 1920's-1960's. Their social relevance is often lost on a generation that does not catch the references. Annie is an example. Annie has the song "we'd like to thank you Herbert Hoover" which is a scathing review of the politics leading to the great depression, but what 15 year old will catch that? Clean Alternatives is designed to bring the audience so close to the action and with such a fast pace of dialogue that you can't help but pay attention. The goal is to show students that theatre is a powerful form of social commentary and a vehicle to explore ideas. This is my personal response to the degradations of the theatrical art form that I see on television. With a medium as powerful and pervasive as television, why is there so little content that inspires us to think and engage with our own lives and fates? Clean Alternatives basically slaps you in the face with the opposite, literally forcing us to question.."didn't you think...because we did not...we did not..."
The base humor of "who farted" keeps students engaged when they are struggling with the fast academic language. The love plot line gives us hope that we are not all doomed to the fate of a planet running a fever with this "infection of human occupation." So I felt that Clean Alternatives had enough humor and palatable content to keep the students engaged with complex and mature content. I also chose the play for the logistics of finding a play where I could fit both the cast and audience in that very small space but hey I like it, its cozy!
~Maia Steward directed Clean Alternatives for the Irvington Conservatory Theatre
The show, Clean Alternatives, is a contemporary interpretation of the struggle that exists within us between our moral obligations to the environment and our desires for money, wealth, and power. I chose a warm color scheme to represent a red-orange LA-style sunset when the pollution settles in the low skies. The dark colors of this poster go along with how this play contradicts it's title in being "clean" and I chose to use a dirty font to symbolize the pollution that we face in society. I also chose striking, yet simplistic elements of design (such as lining up all the text on the right hand side) in parallel to the show's content of addressing severe topics. If there's one thing that I learned from taking part in this production, it'd be learning to appreciate the things that are there in life and learning to live each moment to it's fullest. This goes along with my use of organic shapes and the straightforward design composition because simplicity is often overlooked when making artist choices. However, I did not have a specific message to convey to the audience aside from getting them to think about the issues presented. In fact, part of Ms. Steward director's note was: "We do not ask the audience to agree with the ideas presented, but we do challenge you to think. Love, hate, or enjoy the show; but please leave with an opinion!". On that note, I feel as if my goal as an artist is successfully accomplished when my work leaves the viewer with something to think about.
Circus Center to produce a waste reduction assembly performance for elementary aged students. Framed around themes from Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, four main characters are transported to a land far far away where they learn how to reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot. By the end of their journey, they learn that saving the earth really comes down to a "5th R"- respect.The student producers of Irvington High School's Advanced Drama class have a message- "It's not too late to start saving the earth, but we'd better get started." To help get this message out, students worked with teaching artists from San Francisco's
On Thursday, May 27, Irvington took the show on the road to Olivera elementary school to perform to a packed room of 3rd-6th graders. "We know that the younger students can really look up to high school kids, so we wanted to carry a fun and positive message to the schools," said one of the student producers of the show. "Although our message is, 'It's never too late,' we wanted to start kids off on the right track so we wrote the show to appeal to younger kids." Every aspect of the show carried the waste reduction message as props and costumes were made from found, reused and recycled materials.
In the afternoon, the Advanced Drama class returned to Irvington and brought the message to their peers. "We wanted to tap into pop culture for the show and Jamie and Natasha from the Circus Center really taught us to give larger than life performances," explained one of the actors, "I think those features helped the show play well to high school students too."
Irvington has a strong tradition of engagning students in original, creative work. The school is a visual and performing arts magnet school and challenges all students in performance based assesments like the 9th Grade Change Project. In 9th grade, teams of students work together to examine and address an environmental challenge. Two of the show's writers pointed to their experience in 9th grade as having a direct influence on this show. "In 9th grade, I created a project called, 'Recycling our Future' where I worked with elementary students to creatively reuse materials and turn them into new items," explained one of the writers. "That experience definately helped me think about how to create costumes, props and set pieces for this show."
Back at Olivera, a number of students reported that they were already familiar with the 4Rs, but enjoyed the show nonetheless. "It was a good reminder to do the right thing," declared one 4th grader "The show was really fun- I really wanted to get their autographs!"
As the high school performers reflected on the experience they noted learning stage skills and waste reduction skills side by side. "I never really thought about how important the circus arts are to my acting. I really learned to project my voice and facial features. I also took the waste reduction message home and said, 'Hey mom, don't we have one of those little green bins for food scraps?' 'Why don't we use it?' So my parents started using the green bin. We're still trying to figure out the best system for food scraps, but at least we're trying to figure out a system!"
Indeed, it's not too late to save the earth, but we'd better get started.
Student leaders from Irvington High School organized a monitored waste disposal station as part of this year's multi-cultural week activities. Students set up a centralized waste station in the center of the courtyard that included green waste, recycling, and landfill bins. Student leaders monitored the bins to make sure that students properly disposed of waste and diverted as much material from the landfill as possible.
Multi-cultural week is one of the largest student organized events on campus and includes sales of traditional foods from around the world. Student government implemented a purchasing policy this year encouraging environmentally friendly product decisions. A small number of clubs violated the students' ban on styrofoam and were fined by the student body club commissioner.
Irvington received assistance from the City of Fremont's Environmental Services Division which loaned students 11 green bins to assist with food scrap and food soiled paper diversion.
Nearly one year after being recognized as “America’s Greenest School” in a national competition sponsored by the IC Bus Company, Irvington and the Fremont Unified School District unveiled their prize to the community. In recognition of Irvington’s efforts to conserve energy, reduce waste, and provide students with opportunities to learn and lead on environmental issues, IC Bus Company awarded the school a brand new diesel-electric hybrid bus valued at over $250,000.
Community members were able to tour the bus at the City of Fremont’s Earth Day Festival on Saturday, April 24, 2010. Except for a few extra indicator lights on the dashboard and an outlet cover in addition to a fuel door on the outside, the bus looks just like any other. However, the bus has additional features of note. The interior of the bus is reconfigurable to support a varying number of students using wheel chairs and includes a special door and lift system to make sure that it is fully accessible. The ventilation also features a HEPA filter to maintain healthy air-quality inside the bus.
In addition to the providing tours of the bus, students from Irvington gave away native plants and reusable shopping bags, explained the school’s 9th Grade Environmental Change Project and hosted booths for the City of Fremont.
Last year, sophomore Alex Chen wrote Irvington’s application for the contest- learn more about Irvington and the America’s Greenest School Award here. Read Alex Chen’s winning essay here.