Environmental Club plans to make MHS more environmentally friendly under new adviser

Johnathan Glaskin-Clay, Reporter

 As the Environmental Club creates plans to make the MHS community a more environmentally healthy place to work and learn, the members do so under the guidance of a new sponsorship from Special Education Teacher Nicole Pomerleau, who became the club’s sponsor at the beginning of the school year.

   Pomerleau attributes her appreciation for the environment to the time she spent studying at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, which is in a mountainous terrain.

   “Being part of nature and enjoying nature and being in the natural environment was such a huge component of going to school there that my appreciation for it grew significantly during that time period,” Pomerleau said.

   Now, Pomerleau composts and even pays extra where she lives in order to be able to compost. 

   “I’ve been pretty eco-friendly, and if kids want a club, and no one’s willing to step up, I’m always willing to do that,” Pomerleau said.

   Isabella Feijoo, a junior student who joined the Environmental Club at the beginning of this school year, noted Pomerleau’s passion for environmentalism.

   “I think she is extremely passionate about [the Environmental] Club as she is really trying to get everyone involved in any way she possibly can,” Feijoo said.

   Pomerleau explained what the Environmental Club was like in past years, stating it used to serve mainly as a recycling club.

   “They would pick up the recycling after school, but I had a few students last year reach out to me asking if I would revive the club but make it more of a focus on environmentalism,” Pomerleau said.

   So she did, and the club this year usually meets on Mondays at 7:15 a.m.  

   The first few meetings were done virtually due to scheduling difficulties, but it was during these virtual meetings where they brainstormed tons of ideas. Now the club meets in person with the goal of executing those ideas.

   “Now we are just trying to tackle those [ideas] deliberately and intentionally,” Pomerleau said. “We met with [Head of Maintenance Kevin] Quinn this week, and so we’re hoping that in the next month or so, we can start enacting some of those changes,” Pomerleau said in early October.

   While Pomerleau is the sponsor of the Environmental Club, the club is mostly student-led with her serving as more of a facilitator at the club meetings.

   “She really lets us be independent when trying to come up with ideas, and she tells us how real the ideas could become and how we would be able to accomplish them,” said Mia Dunaway, a junior who joined the club this year.

   Furthermore, Pomerleau also has plans to continue and grow a recycling program at the school. For example, instead of having all of the items being recycled going into one bin, they will be separated based on what type of recycled material they are.

   “We want to pilot a recycling system in the Cafeteria where we can separate things more easily [by] plastics and glass and aluminum and paper,” Pomerleau said. “But, we hope to bring some of that [ recycling concept] into each classroom if it’s successful.”

   Pomerleau also explained some of the practices at MHS that negatively impact the environment.

   “We just have a lot of trash right now, especially with the new free lunches, [which are] great, but there is an increase in waste, as Mr. Quinn has told us, so we are definitely going to try to talk to administration to see if there is any solutions we can come up with,” Pomerleau said. 

   It’s ideas like these that have members of the club recognizing the changes Pomerleau has already brought to the Environmental Club.

   “From the time that I’ve been here, since I haven’t been in it too long, since the start of this year, she has made the club really awesome,” Dunaway said. “She’s made it very real instead of just theoretical change; she’s turned it into something that will become real. She’s doing really great.”

   Pomerleau is also inspired to help with the club because of the impacts of climate change, which include increased temperatures and an increase in natural disasters.

   “If we don’t do anything now, there’s not going to be much left in 50 years, as far as our quality of life, [which] is going to be impacted, and we’re going to have to change everything around, just managing these natural disasters.”

   Therefore, Pomerleau noted what students could do now. They could contact congressmen and politicians about their concerns regarding climate change.

   Pomerleau said, “[Students] are the future voters, and they need to expect what’s to come, and if [politicians] hear a lot of people of your age that are passionate about the environment, then they’re going to have to start making policies to get reelected because [students] will be voting soon.”