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Success Story: Creekside Elementary School

[+] EnlargeCreekside Elementary School

Earth Hero at School Award

David Holbrook receives the King County award in April 2011.

[+] EnlargeCreekside Elementary School

Student Waste Watchers

[+] EnlargeCreekside Elementary School

Students in action

Waste Watchers oversee cafeteria recycling

School District: Issaquah
School Location: Sammamish
Began Participating in the Green Schools Program: September 2010

Level One of the Green Schools Program: Achieved in November 2010
Level Two of the Green Schools Program: Achieved in May 2011
Level Three of the Green Schools Program: Achieved in May 2012
2014-15 Sustaining Green School (Level Four): Achieved in May 2015

Sustaining Green School (Level Four) – 2014-15

  • Creekside Elementary School sustained its Level One waste reduction and recycling practices, Level Two energy conservation practices, and Level Three water conservation strategies.
  • In 2014-15, the school started a campus litter patrol. Primary students tracked the amount of litter collected each week and broadcasted the results during PA announcements, including how much litter was collected and the types of litter found. The announcements reminded students to keep the campus clean.
  • On Earth Day 2015 the school participated in the district-wide Waste Free Lunch Challenge.
  • The school has maintained a garden of edible plants and flowers that is  made from recycled materials.

Waste Reduction and Recycling (Level One)

  • Creekside maintained a recycling rate of 59 percent.
  • In addition to classroom recycling, custodian Dave Holbrook began a lunchroom recycling program which includes cans, bottles, cartons, food scraps and other compostable materials.
  • Holbrook and teacher volunteers oversaw the Waste Watcher program, which students included 54 students as of April 2015 who monitored lunchroom recycling containers.
  • With PTSA coordination, Creekside Elementary participated in TerraCycle’s Capri Sun Juice Pouch Brigade, which turns juice pouches into bags, clipboards, pencil cases, waste baskets and fences.
  • In 2011, the student leadership group developed a movie about recycling that was shown school-wide.
  • The school librarian read recycling-focused books to all classes.
  • The staff workroom and classrooms started “good on one side” boxes for reusing paper, as well as reuse boxes for construction paper in work rooms. x
  • School and PTSA communication was sent electronically to reduce paper use.
  • In spring 2011, a first-grade classroom made a class book of how they reduce, reuse and recycle. One of the students made a video recording to demonstrate how she reduces, reuses and recycles at home.
  • In 2012, as part of a Girl Scout Gold Award project, a high school student created signs in the lunchroom to show which items can be composted and recycled, and which items must be placed in garbage containers.

Energy Conservation (Level Two)

  • Creekside Elementary opened its doors in September 2010. The new building was designed to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified.
  • Automatic light sensors were installed in all regularly occupied rooms. Classrooms discussed the auto light system so students would be aware of the technology.
  • Shields were placed in all classrooms to reflect light into the room, allowing lights to be automatically turned off when an adequate amount of light is present.
  • The Issaquah School District provided a software system that automatically shuts down school computers in the evenings to save energy.
  • In 2011, fifth-grade students read an issue of Time for Kids on energy conservation, and then wrote summaries of what they learned.
  • First-grade students engaged in lessons about water and energy consumption at home and explored how to save materials in their classroom such as using pencils, crayons, glue, etc. until they are completely used up.
  • Creekside instituted and publicized a no idling policy that applies to all vehicles, including school buses.
  • Eighty-two percent of Creekside students rode the bus to school instead of being driven to school in individual cars, which are less energy-efficient.

Water Conservation and Pollution Prevention (Level Three)

  • Students read “green tips” in morning announcements to raise awareness about topics like water conservation.
  • A vegetable garden and multiple rain gardens were installed throughout the school.
  • The school ordered rain barrels to conserve water in their school garden.
  • In 2012, a high school student, to prepare for her Girl Scout Gold Award project, worked with fifth-grade students to create a walking educational field trip on school grounds to explore the school’s rain gardens and natural growth areas.
  • Custodian Dave Holbrook and the after-school student Otter Club measured the flow of all school faucets and confirmed that faucets are low-flow, allowing only a half-gallon of water to flow per minute.
  • Low-flow aerators were installed on all sinks, and  toilets and urinals were water-efficient.
  • A fifth-grade student calculated pervious versus impervious surfaces on school grounds and presented the results to the fifth-grade classroom.
  • Twenty-nine percent of the asphalt on school grounds was water permeable, which allows rainwater to be absorbed into the ground, rather than run into a storm drain.
  • The irrigation system adjusted watering time based on weather conditions.


  • Creekside Elementary won the state Green Leader School award for Pillar One (environmental impact, including waste reduction, recycling, water conservation and energy efficiency) in March 2012.
  • Creekside received the Terry Husseman 2011 Sustainable School Award which the school used to sustain its Waste Watchers program.
  • Custodian Dave Holbrook received a King County Earth Heroes at School award in April 2011.

For more information about this school’s conservation achievements and participation in the Green Schools Program, contact:

Judy Bowlby, program assistant
Dave Holbrook, head custodian
Dawn Wallace, director of instructional support, Teaching and Learning Services, Issaquah School District

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Updated: Nov. 18, 2015

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