Archive for February 26th, 2013

February 26, 2013

My Green, Dream Prom: High School Challenge #4 in Fairchild Challenge at Phipps

by Melissa Harding

Winning school, Moon Area High School, submitted a promotional song to use at their event.

During the latest challenge of the Fairchild Challenge at Phipps, 144 high school students from 7 area schools redesigned their senior prom to have as low an environmental impact as possible. Each school was asked to submit a plan for an updated, sustainable prom; an additional option was to submit a song, skit or dance with a green message to promote the event. Students worked in groups to create comprehensive plans that included provisions for food, clothing, decoration, tickets, transportation, lighting and more. The ideas submitted were fabulous; from suggestions for vintage prom outfits to tiki torch lighting, these revised prom ideas were both innovative and accessible.

The winning school, Moon Area High School,  used a community perspective, since their prom is truly a neighborhood event. They suggested involving parents and local businesses for food and decoration donations, as well as using the local nature center for the venue. Since many students need to participate in fundraising to afford their tickets, Moon proposed both selling stainless steel water bottles and allowing students to bring recyclable items to get a discounted tickets. Both of these options help to reduce waste and encourage reusing and recycling. Another recommendation was to print tickets on biodegradable paper with embedded seeds that can be planted after prom or to make paperless tickets available for students to download onto their phones. Since many students purchase expensive formal wear for the occasion, this entry suggested rewarding those students who wear vintage clothes or who make their own dresses out of reused materials. Regarding jewelry, “Opt for something vintage, maybe your mom’s gorgeous diamond earrings or grandma’s classy pearls”. This entry proposes crowing a “Recycle Queen” in addition to the traditional prom royalty; all crowns will be reused, of course.

The second place entry, from Shaler Area High School, was equally innovative. They propose the theme of “Capulet’s Garden”, filling the room with real and crafted flowers to achieve a “magical garden feeling”. Shaler submitted a diorama with samples of these flowers, as well as other room decorations, to illustrate their ideas to the judges. They propose purchasing flowers from a local, sustainable florist in the Pittsburgh with a small carbon footprint and crafting additional ones from recycled water bottles, brightly painted to disguise their origins. In addition to eco-friendly decor, they also recommend similarly carbon-neutral entertainment. Instead of a DJ, acoustic music from local bands will provide a low-key, romantic feel while using no energy at all. To give students “a once in a lifetime meal”, Shaler turned to a local restaurant to provide local, healthy food options from its rooftop garden. Described as filled with “plenty of choices and tastes that can satisfy even the pickiest eater”, it is a great idea to get students trying foods that they would not normally experience.

North Allegheny Senior High School, the third place winner, chose not to create a new prom for their school, but rather to create a guide to creating green events that anyone could use, “whether you are a conscientious consumer of “green” products or just a high school kid wanting to have a good time at prom”. Full of short articles on various topics, this entry includes tips on decorating for less, hair and makeup, clothes, food, tableware and transportation. For decorations, they suggests using potted plants instead of cut flowers and old newspaper pieces instead of confetti. For balloons, they suggests using latex, as it is compostable. They also suggest donating left over decorations to local nursing homes after the event. One of the only groups to address hair and makeup, this entry recommends avoiding toxic chemicals and animal testing in beauty products. On the subject of transportation, students suggest carpooling or hybrid limos. The more students in a vehicle, the better!

Though there could only be three winners in the competition, many local students will be winners this spring when they attend the greenest proms in the area!



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