BY JULIA MURPHY | July 3, 2018
In May, the U.S. Department of Education named St. Louis University High School (SLUH) a 2018 Green Ribbon School award honoree. SLUH is the only high school in Missouri this year, and the first Jesuit school to date, to receive the award. Green Ribbon Schools are honored for their “innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.”
During its bicentennial year, St. Louis University High School has reflected on its Jesuit, Catholic roots and on its dedication to the Church’s social teachings. In his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis says: “Let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.” SLUH has responded to this call by way of its sustainability committee, made up of faculty, staff, and students.
This committee, working with local St. Louis partners, has contributed to making the school Energy Star certified, increasing green space around the school with native plants, and reducing waste, which was fulfilled during SLUH’s bicentennial “Zero Waste Birthday Party.”
In terms of health and wellness, SLUH has made efforts to protect students and faculty from airborne chemicals in labs, storage facilities, and other areas on campus. The school has spearheaded new fitness programming, with diverse physical education options such as rock climbing, yoga, and biking through St. Louis. The school has additionally promoted wellness through all-school assemblies and free health screenings to benefit students, faculty, and staff.
For the sustainability education pillar of the Green Ribbon School award, in order to align itself with both Laudati Si’ and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, SLUH designed and launched new cross-curricular course options. For example, a human geography course was developed within the social studies department, which is “centered on sustainability themes and deepening cross-curricular coordination with freshman biology.” In addition, the school has offered advanced placement environmental science, which is taken by 12% of students, all of whose scores fall at a 3 or above (on a scale of 1-5). Other courses in the humanities emphasize the importance of caring for God’s creation, bringing all of the school’s curriculum full circle to its Jesuit, Catholic mission.
The faculty, staff, and students of St. Louis University High School who have worked hard together to make their school a place that respects creation, will continue to develop sustainability efforts even further with the help of their families and the greater St. Louis community, all for the “greater glory of God.”
Julia Murphy is a 2019 graduate of Saint Louis University, where she pursued majors in English and Spanish and minors in urban poverty studies and Latin American studies. Most recently, she spent eight months as a volunteer with Rostro de Cristo in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where she worked in community organizing and youth development at Hogar de Cristo, a Jesuit social housing organization. She is passionate about working for justice, which stems from her upbringing as well as from her Jesuit education at SLU and with the Casa de la Mateada program in Córdoba, Argentina through Loyola Marymount University and the Universidad Católica de Córdoba, where she studied during the spring of 2017. She is from Cleveland, Ohio, where she spent the summer of 2018 as an intern with the Ignatian Solidarity Network.