We’ve gradually been moving from a school with its heart in the right place to one taking comprehensive action to address the climate crisis. Ransom Everglades must be part of the solution; not only do our students demand it, but it is imperative for a sustainable future. We are making progress.
As you may know, last spring we added 305 solar panels to the roof of the Henry H. Anderson, Jr. ‘38 Gymnasium, an installation so large that it drew attention from the local media and politicians. Those solar panels are now fully powering the gymnasium and sending overflow kilowatts into the city’s power grid during certain parts of the day. They are also projected to save 1,800 trees a year. The initiative, led by a group of concerned students, followed the installation of a smaller array at the middle school in 2019.
As proud as we are of the solar panels, we know the little things are just as important. This summer, Ransom Everglades purchased the battery packs that now power all of our garden implements: leaf blowers, hedge trimmers and branch cutters. The added benefit for students, faculty and staff: they are also virtually noise-free, a big change from the distracting buzz we used to endure.
The golf carts are doubly green; we decided that reconfiguring our gas-powered ones into electric carts offered the best path to environmentally friendly rides around campus, so in that case, we have both repurposed and adopted a cleaner energy source. (We also purchased a few new battery-powered carts.) We have been collecting used cooking oil from our kitchens and sending it off for reuse. Speaking of our kitchens, you won’t find plastic utensils anywhere; our dining wear is either reusable or biodegradable. We’ve improved our single-stream recycling, and we have been phasing in eco-friendly light bulbs.
Our parents have helped, in some cases by leading initiatives such as our uniform recycling program. RE families have reused no fewer than 8,000 school uniforms over the last two years. Parents also supported the gymnasium solar initiative. We couldn’t do this without them.
We are indebted to our Director of Environmental Sustainability Kelly Jackson – who was appointed to that new role last year and has been a driving force – and the many students and faculty who have served on green teams, organized sustainability committees, led clean-ups and repurposing drives, and activated our now-annual and increasingly incredible RE Climate Symposium. The climate symposium shows off the climate-focused work that goes on all year long in our classrooms, where our students not only learn about climate challenges but also, most importantly, brainstorm on solutions. At the upper school, we offer a number of courses with a sustainability/climate focus: Advanced Environmental Science and the South Florida Ecosytem, Marine Field Research, Marine Biology and Marine Science.
We have green co-curricular activities as well. Our middle school “Green Team” has been frequently recognized with sustainability awards, and students tend a garden planted with native pollinating plants that has attracted butterflies and caterpillars. An upper school student group has reached out to businesses in Coconut Grove to encourage the reduction of single-use plastic (the new Blue Grove Sustainability Consulting Scholar Program with Debris Free Oceans).
For many, this exciting effort is simply the right thing to do. For some, it’s overdue. For our students and faculty, it's obvious that it fits squarely with Paul Ransom’s vision of our community leaving the world – and planet Earth – better than we found it.
Interim Head of SchoolEmail