Over its history of more than 225 years, Cheshire Academy has always looked forward to the future, whether it was welcoming returning veterans of the Civil War, admitting women as day and boarding students, or providing education to newly arrived refugees.
For CA to envision its next 200 years, the school community recognizes the need to put environmental sustainability at the forefront of education. From student leadership clubs to celebrations of Earth Day, energy saving investments and gardens and trails across the 104–acre campus to class curriculum, Cheshire Academy is committed to a globally sustainable future.
“At Cheshire Academy, sustainability is an integral part of our community. Cheshire Academy promotes respect for the natural world, a sense of responsibility towards future generations, and global citizenship through curricular, co-curricular, service, and afternoon activities. We aim to inspire our students to become leaders who strive to incorporate environmental stewardship into every aspect of campus life by modeling what we teach through our institutional practices — like using our refillable water stations placed throughout the campus and reducing our carbon footprint through the use of our newly-installed solar panels.
Cheshire Academy has many ongoing sustainability initiatives designed to reduce our carbon footprint and raise awareness about the importance of conserving our planet, including:
Single-stream recycling system
Bottle-filling water stations in most buildings on campus
Green Move-Out in each dorm
Used clothing racks in each dorm
CA apparel and textbook buy-back and resell program (in the works)
Composting system (in the works)
Campus activities, including beach clean-ups and attending conferences on sustainability.”
– Sustainability Coordinator Katie Cooper
The Eco Leaders is a student-driven organization dedicated to advancing environmental sustainability at the individual, local, and national levels. Students lead campus and community projects such as beach cleanups, Earth Day celebrations, dorm recycling, and much more.
Coalition for a Sustainable Cheshire
Students and faculty at Cheshire Academy volunteer with the Coalition for a Sustainable Cheshire, a nonprofit organization that facilitates collaboration between local organizations, government, and citizens for implementing environmentally sustainable, culturally vibrant, and socially equitable projects that improve the quality of life for Cheshire residents.
229-kilowatt solar array through the CAIS consortium, installed on the facilities building, Gideon Welles Dining Commons, John J. White ’38 Science and Technology Center, and Woodbury Hall. The array is expected to generate an estimated 320,000 kilowatt-hours per year.
LED lighting, implemented in 2019.
Earth Day Celebration
Held annually on campus, the Cheshire Academy community gathers on Earth Day to discuss some of the pressing issues facing the environment, and how students can help serve as stewards of the Earth for generations to come. Each year offers a new theme, with the most recent being “When the World Works Together.” Invited speakers live around the world and meet with students in person and virtually to educate students about global sustainability.
Keynote speakers have included James Albis, senior advisor to the commissioner for Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection; Daniel Esty, Hillhouse professor at Yale University and former DEEP commissioner; and Bijal Vachharajani, an author residing in India who has dedicated her life to raising awareness about climate change.
Following a schoolwide discussion with the keynote speaker, students break into groups for a variety of programs, such as cleaning up area beaches, assisting at local farms, attending virtual trips, and learning how they can make a difference in the world.
Elkay Water Refill Stations
These bottle filling stations have been installed in all common spaces on campus, significantly cutting back on the number of plastic bottles being sent to landfills. The stations have filters to reduce lead and other contaminants from getting into the water, offer touchless sensor activation for easy and hygienic use, and have an auto shutoff to prevent accidental spillage.
While all classes at Cheshire Academy educate students on how they can be good stewards, some classes converse deeply about how they can make positive and lasting impacts to better the environment, and communities. Starting in the 9th-grade year, and continuing through the PG program, there are offerings available in a number of academic departments.
Modeling Climate Change
Students enrolled in the Modeling Climate Change course explore how economic models and projects are affected by climate trends, the business of sustainable energy, and the role that changes in weather patterns are playing in war zones, migration and immigration, radicalism, and natural disaster cleanup and recovery.
9th-grade seminar – The Environment, Justice, and You
This course demonstrates the ways that environment and justice intersect, and how individuals can work to understand and take action against injustice. Students explore current environmental justice issues and learn how to see inequities through a multi-modal lens.
Students in the postgraduate program all participate in this global investigation of interconnected topics. An investigation into the historical causes of climate change, its modern-day impacts and the many policy debates surrounding the fight to combat these current and future impacts takes students around the globe from Washington D.C., to small Pacific Island nations.
“Over the summer of 2020, I worked with the Coalition for a Sustainable Cheshire on a task force that distributed compost bins to Cheshire residents and educated others on composting. I was able to get involved with this group through Cheshire Academy’s environmental club Eco Leaders. In this task force I became a co-leader of the education/marketing team. I learned a lot working on this project and saw more than 90 compost bins get distributed to Cheshire residents!” -Aishlinn Parrinello ‘23
Read the news story: Getting Hand On With Composting.