SOMERS POINT — Students and staff at the Dawes Avenue School are looking to reduce their carbon footprint with the help of a $2,000 grant from Sustainable Jersey for Schools.

Principal Doreen Lee said the money would be used to install three water bottle filling stations as part of an effort to cut down dramatically on the number of plastic water bottles used.

The emphasis of the green team has not solely been on recycling, but on reducing the amount of material that needs to be recycled, she said.

The principal said the plan is to replace one water fountain on each floor with a refill station, plus one in the gym. Each student will get a plastic water bottle to use during the day and fill up as needed.

“We hope that students increase their water consumption during the day, which we know is beneficial to their health and learning,” Lee said.

Dawes green team leader Kim O’Brien said the team has embraced healthy living practices in the school community for years.

“This program synthesizes our sustainability initiatives into a common set of goals led by our green team," she said.

"The funding will help us to expand students' and staff's access to healthy drinking water through the purchase of filtered hydration stations," O’Brien said.

"Our teachers union, the Somers Point Education Association, is planning a Pride event where families and staff come together for a healthy salad night, complete with a ribbon cutting ceremony and free BPA-free water bottles."

The Dawes School grant is part of $750,000 in grants awarded to support a sustainable future for children across the state, the New Jersey Education Association said in a press release.

“This is an important program that directs resources into our schools, and NJEA is proud to continue to work with Sustainable Jersey,” NJEA Vice President Sean Spiller said. “We help ensure that we leave a better world for our students when we emphasize the value of sustainability.”

Randall Solomon, executive director for Sustainable Jersey, said the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program aims to empower schools with the funding needed to implement important sustainability actions. 

Proposals were judged by an independent committee. The grants are intended to help schools progress toward a sustainable future in general, and Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification in particular.

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