Environmental Sustainability at LWHS

Creating a Comprehensive Sustainability Culture

In response to student advocacy efforts, PTSA President Tanya Knudsen and Sustainability Chair Stephanie Lecovin are working with students, teachers/staff, administration, and parents to facilitate a comprehensive sustainability culture at Lake Washington High School! Tanya is leading the community through the Creative Problem-Solving process from visioning toward an actionable plan, while Stephanie is contributing over 15 years of relevant PTSA and sustainability experience and knowledge. Together, the school community is beginning this culture change by focusing efforts on waste reduction, with three initial goals: (1) conducting a food waste audit; (2) adding recycling and composting stations in the lunchroom (the “Commons”); and (3) implementing a food share/food donation program during lunch service. They aim to have all three of these goals fully implemented or in process by Earth Week, observed April 17-21. 

Many thanks to Principal Bell and Administrative Intern Jennifer Quillin for their tremendous leadership and support, and to those who have contributed so far to visioning and brainstorming sessions held over the last several weeks. 

Watch the following LWHS Green Team videos about composting: 
 > KANG TV News story with the LWHS Green Team about composting
 > LWHS Green Team Prepares for Waste Stations in the Lunchroom 


Tanya Knudsen, LWHS PTSA President
Stephanie Lecovin, Sustainability Chair

Composting, recycling, and food donation efforts are going strong at LWHS!

Since implementing sustainability changes for Earth Week, 252 pieces of whole fruit, 38 boxes of raisins, 18 juices, and 99 cartons of milk have been donated to New Bethlehem Programs, Kirkland’s only family shelter, located across the street from LW. Food waste is now being composted and plastic, glass, and aluminum bottles are being recycled.

Emma and N at waste station

Students at waste station

Jack at waste stattion

Students at waste station

Food Donation

Food Donations

There is still significant plastic waste in the form of clamshells, silverware, cups, and wrapping. Students are now shifting their focus to reduce that waste at its source. On May 25, eight members of the Green Team presented a proposal to LWSD Nutrition Services to transition to non-plastic, reusable items in the Fall.

On May 26, PTSA Sustainability Chair Stephanie Lecovin presented an update to teachers at their LEAP Day in-service, summarizing the achievements around waste reduction over the last three months and letting teachers know what they can do to support ongoing efforts. Check out that brief presentation here

These changes could not have happened without the collaboration and full support from LWHS staff and administration, and the passionate students from the LWHS Green Team. Way to go, everyone!

Anti-Idling Event

In addition to the efforts around food waste, on April 6, the LWHS Green Team students helped spread the word about turning off car engines if you’re going to be parked for more than ten seconds. They braved the rain and passed out flyers to students and parents during school dismissal, educating them on the importance of turning off your engine to save money, improve air quality/health, and improve auto performance.

Many thanks to the student volunteers, as well as Green Team Advisor Andrea Thody, City of Kirkland volunteers Susan Vossler and Judy Beto, and PTSA Sustainability Chair Stephanie Lecovin.

Develop Ideas

Ideas are not solutions. Turning ideas into solutions is the juncture that involves continued exploration (divergent thinking) as well as putting on the breaks to affirm what is viable, doable and stands out. Creative questions invite us to get right to work on renewed yet focused thinking. As we approach Earth Week, these creative questions will help in moving us toward the goal for all school transformation toward composting April 2023.


Principal Bell kicked off the food waste audit on Thursday, March 16th in the Commons, where 17 students, most from the Green Team and Honor Society, joined Sustainability Chair Stephanie Lecovin, PTSA President Tanya Knudsen, and Green Team Advisor Andrea Thody in weighing and measuring the waste from lunch that day, then sorting it into what could have been donated/shared, composted, recycled or trashed. The waste audit is critical for establishing a baseline and determining next steps for creating a new waste disposal system that includes food donation, compost, and recyclables. The group plans to have their new composting system up and running by Earth Week, April 17-21.

Students getting ready for the food waste audit from the kitchen
and the commons (upstairs and main floor) on Thursday, March 16th.

LWHS Waste Audit, March 2023:

<click the image to be taken to Facebook to watch a video of the waste audit presentation>



Clarifying the Challenge


For those who were not able to join the Visioning sessions but want a peek into what you missed, here are some examples of the process and outputs. 




Students contributed thoughtful visions:

Example of visionary thinking


Common Themes: 
Food choices
Hardscape (building & exterior environment)
Softscape (inside space)

Visioning Outcomes







Check back in for ongoing updates to this Sustainability effort!

Tanya Knudsen, LWHS PTSA President
Stephanie Lecovin, Sustainability Chair