Chicago Public Schools Commemorate Earth Day
21 April 2023
CPS Schools Engage Students on Environmental Issues, Host Various Events to Foster Sustainability and Awareness
CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students are ramping up their focus on environmental protection issues this weekend as the District joins schools across the nation in commemorating the 53rd anniversary of Earth Day on Saturday, April 22. Schools honor the themes of Earth Day throughout the year through environmental science and other courses and extracurricular clubs, and many are hosting special community events and other learning opportunities on Saturday.
“Learning to be good stewards of our planet and our community is essential to a well-rounded 21st-century education,” said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. “Our schools are preparing students to foster a more sustainable, resilient, reliable and equitable world while also cultivating the skills they need for the green jobs of tomorrow.”
As a District, CPS is committed to addressing environmental issues through classroom curriculum and teacher professional development. The District’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program is at the forefront of interdisciplinary environmental education with a variety of learning initiatives. Students in the District’s Culinary CTE programs, for example, are involved in food waste reduction and composting while the Food Science program teaches students how to convert raw materials into food and discover the science behind food composition. The Horticultural Science CTE program also exposes students to sustainable agricultural practices, including hydroponics and vertical farming, no-till farming, and aquaponics. CPS students in Agricultural Applied Biology are exposed to environmental issues such as sustainable food production and the responsible use of land, water, and animals.
“Our students are our city’s future leaders and it is our responsibility to prepare them to understand and address the environmental challenges they will face,” said CPS Chief Education Officer Bogdana Chkoumbova. “Our curriculum is designed to inspire innovation to create a bountiful future for every Chicagoan and to ensure our students understand the importance of addressing the climate crisis, resource depletion, and other inequities in our communities.”
As one of the largest school districts in the country, CPS created a Climate Plan to mitigate the District’s impact on the environment through grid-interactive efficient buildings that optimize energy savings, meet renewable energy goals, and also reduce carbon emissions. The District has also partnered with ComED to begin transitioning driver's education vehicles from gas to electric. This program reduces the environmental impact of these courses while allowing students to learn about sustainability and energy conservation as they learn to drive. So far, five schools have received nine electric vehicles and charging stations to use for Drivers Education courses, with a sixth school set to make the transition by the end of the 2022-23 school year.
Schools across the District are hosting environmental cleanup events, garden planting, and marches to commemorate the global day of action celebrated by billions of people. This includes an event on April 22nd at Piccolo School of Excellence where volunteers will clean up their school and tend to the school's garden between 10 a.m. and noon. Schools are also partnering with local community organizations like the Obama Foundation, Chicago Park District, Friends of the Park, and Emerald South to clean up their schools and local parks, and celebrate this day of service.
Earth Day was created in 1970 by former Wisconsin governor Gaylord Nelson to increase awareness and public support for the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address critical environmental issues. April 22 is recognized globally as a day of action, with communities gathering to participate in activities like picking up litter and planting trees.
About Chicago Public Schools (CPS)
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is dedicated to providing a high-quality education to all students, beginning with the District’s free full-day preschool programming for four-year-old scholars and continuing through neighborhood, magnet and selective-enrollment elementary schools that provide a rigorous K-8 education with schools that specialize in the fine arts, world language and culture, dual language, STEM, International Baccalaureate (IB), classical programs, and more. The rising District-wide freshmen-on-track and high school graduation rates reflect the hard work of the CPS community, including families, staff, and students across 635 schools. CPS celebrates the diversity of its more than 322,000 students who cite 182 home languages. Learn more about CPS at www.cps.edu and connect with CPS on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.