Reverencing the Earth
At Ancillae-Assumpta Academy, we work to foster the development of a global consciousness that will build a better world. The Academy has placed a photo of planet Earth in each classroom. It is a NASA image of our planet suspended in the blackness of space to remind us that we are global citizens. We recognize that all life is one, and the photograph shows the interconnectedness of all creation. The planet symbol of our Earth home helps our school community to center itself on who we are and where we are. Using the image of planet Earth and studying the Earth processes as self-renewing and self-healing, we develop a reverence for the Earth and all creation. We work to foster in our students the insights necessary to move our species to a comprehensive world-view and get in touch with working in a way that is congruent with our nature. At Ancillae-Assumpta Academy, our children learn that the life systems on Earth are interdependent.
Protecting the Environment
In an effort to maximize energy efficiency and minimize energy demands and emissions, Ancillae-Assumpta Academy has installed solar panels on all available roof space at the Academy. Since installation in 2012, energy production has enabled the Academy to purchase 10.5% of its total energy usage from renewable energy resulting in significantly less carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide being released into the atmosphere. Our energy costs are reduced since we supply energy to the grid. As an educational institution, the Academy endeavors to provide the example of responsible use of resources and alternative energy to our students. The website provided by our installer measures the daily and accumulative energy generated by the panels as well as the amount of noxious gases that are avoided.
Ancillae-Assumpta Academy also promotes sustainable practices by actively recycling materials. Embodying Cheltenham Township's sustainability goal of waste reduction, Ancillae enlists all faculty, staff, and students to purposefully recycle cooking oil, plastic, glass, metal, cardboard, paper, electronic equipment, ink containers. In 2013 alone, Ancillae-Assumpta Academy collected and recycled 350 lbs. of cooking oil, 96 cubic yards of commingled plastic, glass, and metal, 144 cubic yards of cardboard, 11.67 tons of paper, over a ton of electronic equipment, 20 medium and 16 large ink containers. This allows for the reuse of valuable materials and reduces the amount of waste in landfills.
Beginning in fall 2016, students began to compost in the Student Dining Room. All student, faculty and staff diners have now been trained to dispose of their waste into one of three containers: Compost, Trash and Recycling. Our actions make a difference! Our trash consumption has been reduced from four large (55-gallon) bags down to one bag. We have eliminated the use of two trash cans in the dining room and our recycling has been reduced from three bags to one, due to the use of the washable cups. Organic Diversion, our food and organics recycling supplier, reports that in our first month of composting, September 2016, .86 tons (or 1,720 pounds) of food was composted at Ancillae. Organic Diversion comes in one time a week to remove the compost, which then gets converted to fuel and animal feed, among other things. By actively promoting these practices, we deepen the sense of responsibility and reverence for the environment in our school community.
Leading with Education
The curriculum at Ancillae-Assumpta Academy emphasizes the development of strong academic skills for its students, utilizing an integrative model and approach to learning. Our program promotes the development of curious minds and positive attitudes and endeavors to motivate students to develop critical thinking skills and an interdependent style of learning. Each class utilizes the Outdoor Classroom in its scientific endeavors and investigations and has in its course of study age-appropriate lessons on ecology and the environment. Some examples of the curriculum include the introduction of biomes in grade 3, exploration of alternative and renewable energy in grade 4, the 7th grade study of the impact of the Technology Age with a major project designing a “green school” from blueprints to a virtual model utilizing SketchUp software, and the 8th grade investigation of the impact of weathering and soil erosion.
Ancillae students maintain four large, raised garden beds. Our students have actively participated in choosing, designing, planting and harvesting any herbs and vegetables that come from the garden. The garden’s harvest is then immediately incorporated into the school lunch program. In addition, three tower gardens have been installed in the dining room and are used to grow herbs and vegetables. This experience allows our students to develop an appreciation and understanding of nature and of the interdependence of plants and animals through first-hand observation and interaction. Students attending Ancillae-Assumpta Academy fully appreciate the delicate balance of the earth’s resources, the necessity to carefully nurture those resources, and the importance of minimizing the negative impact on the environment.