One of the ways that D-E “meet the challenges of a changing world and make it better,” as stated in our mission, is through the various green initiatives in which each division of our school partakes. Supporting these initiatives is done through a three-pronged approach — through our curriculum both inside and outside of the classroom, various student-run initiatives and clubs, and a green-oriented campus. All divisions are active in making the school a greener place, from the Pollution Stoppers in the Lower School to the DIG classes and Garden Club in the Middle School, to the Environmental Science classes and the Environmental Club in the Upper School. We invite you to explore the D-E Green website to learn more.

Eco-Conscious Entrepreneurship: A Sustainable Revolution in School Merchandise

In an age where fast fashion dominates and environmental concerns are at an all-time high, one high school student, Eddy Gelman, is making a difference by sourcing his clothing through exclusively green means. Eddy, committed to sustainability, opts to buy from thrift stores and second-hand shops, avoiding the pitfalls of mass-produced apparel. This commitment is driven by his understanding of the environmental impact associated with new clothing production, including the significant use of resources and the pollution generated. However, when Eddy was seeking to show his spirit by purchasing some school merchandise, he discovered that the options available at the school store were made primarily overseas, employing questionable labor practices, utilizing high concentrations of plastic fibers, and polluting local streams and rivers. This revelation didn’t sit well with his ethical standards and prompted him to seek an alternative solution that aligned with his values.

Motivated by his moral compass, Eddy decided to take matters into his own hands by creating his own line of school merchandise. He hand-selected quality pre-owned shirts and hoodies from local stores around New York City, ensuring that each piece met his standards for sustainability and ethical production. He then engineered a remanufacturing process to brand this clothing with Dwight-Englewood logos. Eddy transformed his kitchen into a mini production studio where he screenprinted designs, sewed on patches, and ironed on decals, infusing each piece of merchandise with personal care and attention to detail. He says that this hands-on approach ensures that every item is not only environmentally friendly but also uniquely crafted with a personal touch.

Eddy’s efforts did not go unnoticed. After presenting his eco-friendly merchandise to the school administration, he received approval from the Head of School to continue with his project in an official capacity. This endorsement marks a significant achievement, as it not only validated Eddy’s efforts but also set a new standard for school merchandise. This story is a testament to the power of individual action in driving change. By choosing to create a sustainable option in the realm of school merchandise, Eddy has not only provided an eco-friendly option for his peers but has also sparked a conversation about the importance of sustainable practices in every aspect of our lives. This is part of a recent trend of students taking the initiative to provide eco-friendly options in various aspects of school life – other similar projects include a recycling program for tennis balls, the Compost Initiative, and the Solar Panel Project. These projects serve as inspiring examples of how commitment to one’s values can lead to impactful change, encouraging fellow students to think globally and act locally. 

Earth Week Overview

The Environmental Club’s Earth Week schedule, which spanned from April 21st to April 26th, featured an array of activities to fuel environmental awareness in the school community. Events included a planting and pot decorating activity at the annual Spring Carnival, a presentation of the Net Zero Initiative’s Solar Panel Project at the school-wide morning meeting, a slideshow playing in Hajjar STEM, a sustainable bake sale that supported the Hackensack Riverkeeper, and an eco-themed Kahoot trivia. Awareness was also spread to younger divisions through a Lower School reading activity where Upper Schoolers did a read-aloud of Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax. The schedule showcased the club’s dedication to promoting environmental awareness and engagement throughout Earth Week to both the school and the local community. The planning of Earth Week remains an annual tradition for the Environmental Club and involves a great deal of student leadership!

APES Class visits Columbia Earth Observatory, Water Treatment Plant, and Solar Farm

This Spring, the AP Environmental Science class went on three field trips to get some firsthand experience with various aspects of Environmental Science.

The first trip was to the Columbia Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and to the Hudson River Field Station, operated by the Observatory. This trip was a collaboration between the AP Environmental Science and AP Biology classes and occurred as part of PAW (Projects and Assessments Week). At the Field Station, located at the end of Piermont Pier, students learned about the Hudson River Watershed, conducted a variety of chemical tests on water samples fresh from the river, and learned how to use a Secchi disk to measure the turbidity (amount of suspended particles) of the water. They also had a chance to examine a freshly collected sediment core from the bottom of the river. 

Then, following a brief intermission for lunch, students had a chance to explore the Core Repository at the Lamont-Doherty main campus, one of the largest repositories of ocean sediment cores in the world. Differences in core layers provided students with evidence of past changes in the Earth’s climate. Students also used the opportunity to review plate tectonics, with large maps on the walls showing the various plate boundaries. Students also learned how magnesium nodules form on the sea floor in thin layers over millions of years, and the environmental consequences of mining such a unique, non-renewable resource. Lastly, students had the opportunity to examine under a microscope the tiny shells of phytoplankton to see how they decreased in complexity following the asteroid strike 65 million years ago.

Shortly after returning from Spring Break, the class was back on the road, this time visiting the Veolia Water Treatment Plant in Haworth, NJ. This plant filters water from the Oradell Reservoir, which is then supplied to households and institutions across most of Bergen County, including Dwight-Englewood. The tour of the facility began with a lesson about the basics of watersheds, reservoirs, and dams. After this introduction, everyone was asked to put on hardhats, protective glasses, and yellow vests for safety purposes, to the great excitement of many. This was followed by a walk onto the dock where intake pipes pull in water from the reservoir for filtration, where students were surprised by the sound of gunshots behind them – this was a recording played at regular intervals, which is designed to keep ducks away from the reservoir, as they can pollute the water with organic matter.

Next, the group was taken into the facilities lab, which tests hundreds of water samples at various stages in the filtration process every week. Small groups rotated through stations, where scientists explained various aspects of the testing process. At the microbiology station, students had the chance to see naturally-occuring bacteria under a microscope. The microbiologists also showed how if there was any bacteria present in a sample, they would become visible as colonies on a petri dish within just a few hours. At the titration station, chemists explained how they used titration to determine the alkalinity of the water. Lastly, at the mineral station, chemists explained how they used plasma mass spectrometry to identify the quantities of magnesium, iron, and other metals present in the water. This was the first D-E class ever to have the opportunity to see the lab, as most of the time the scientists are busy performing their tests!

After having toured the lab, the group saw how the scum which floated to the top of the water was skimmed off using a giant scraping mechanism. Unfortunately, at this point the group was short on time, so some steps in the filtration process were skipped, although the group did have a chance to see the water being filtered through anthracite (a type of coal) and sand. At the end of the tour, students had the chance to try the water as it came out of the final filtration step. According to one student, “it tasted like water.”

 The final trip of the season was to a solar farm operated by PSE&G, located in Kearny, NJ. This trip had been rescheduled four times due to bad weather, so when the class found out the night before the trip that they were at last going, everyone was very excited. The trip included an explanation of how solar panels work, as well as some review about how buying RECs (Renewable Energy Certificates) is the best way to support renewable energy for large consumers. Students also got to see some of the equipment used to step up the voltage of the generated electricity before sending it to the grid, and the guide explained how the system was set up so that a failure of one section did not affect the rest of the panels. At the end of the tour, students got to see how energy generation was affected by the solar eclipse – since it was a clear day, the energy generation followed a bell curve that has a very clear dip right at the time time of the eclipse. Just as this was being explained, the group was interrupted by a small killdeer twittering angrily at what it saw as a threat to its nest, a reminder that although the site is a closed landfill, it is also a functioning ecosystem.

US Garden Club Expands Relationship with CFA

On April 12, the Garden Club took a field trip to the organic vegetable garden at the Center for Food Action. While the Sixth Grade has a long-standing relationship with the CFA, having been the ones to originally construct this garden, this was the first organized event there for high school students. The trip began with an overview of what the CFA garden does and why it is important, followed by work in small groups. Some of the tasks accomplished included preparing grow bags for planting, intensive weeding, clearing beds to plant peas, and transplanting flower seedlings.

Not everyone on the trip was a Garden Club member – for Hiker Gouverneur, this was his first foray into gardening. He described the experience as “rejuvenating,” saying that “it was a great opportunity to relax during a very academically stressful time.” Garden Club co-president Hannah Carroll concurs, saying that the trip was “really fun,” and provided her with “a great opportunity to look into for the summer.” Indeed, one of the goals of the trip was to encourage students to do more volunteering at the CFA garden over the summer. This seems to have worked, as most of the participants said they were at least considering doing more volunteering there, and largely the same group has already agreed to return as part of a trip on May 29.

US Garden Club Completes Rehabilitation of Lower School Garden Bed

The US Garden Club has been working hard over the past few weeks to rehabilitate the Lower School Garden, which had effectively been left fallow since the departure of long-time LS science teacher and avid gardener Beth Lemire. Now, the Garden Club has successfully restored one bed, planting rhubarb, potatoes, strawberries, chives, and various herbs. The project was finished on May 3, at which point a LS science class came out to look at their new resource. The students got the chance to meet the architects of their now-blossoming space and ask them questions about gardening and the natural world. 

 The planting of the bed followed intensive soil testing, fertilization and aeration. Meanwhile, on two of the neighboring beds, the Garden Club has taken a slower but more environmentally friendly approach, using compost (from the compost arena) and cover-cropping to fertilize the soil. Thus the garden is also serving as an outdoor lab to investigate the efficacy of more sustainable farming methods. Ultimately, however, the goal is to use sustainable practices on all the beds, and to return the lower school garden back to full productivity by the end of the next school year.


Before After (feat. Garden Club members Liv Silberstein and Milly Urbanowski)