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Going paperless

To make WLHS students and adults aware of the amount of paper they use, one day a month is set aside as paperless
by: Cindy Garrison, Samantha Hanlin holds a paper tree filled with paper equivalent to that used from one school printer in one day.

Organizers of No Print Day at West Linn High School, in photo at left, throw paper over the school’s second-floor balcony. The demonstration was intended to make students and faculty more aware of the need to save paper.

So far this year, 2,646,000 pieces of paper have been used by West Linn High School students and staff. But that all changed on Wednesday, March 14. The school's 16 printers and five copiers were shut down and everyone at the school was asked to observe No Print Day.

The event was planned as a monthly program to help students and staff become more aware of their paper use.

The event was organized by the high school's Green Team, the Ecology Team, the Associated Student Body, the leadership classes and Angie Hammond, information technology specialist.

'For two or three days in November printers were shut off,' said Ali Litvir, Green Team president. 'We noticed we saved so many reams of paper that we got interested to have a no print day once a month.'

Chris Schwanz, a Green Team member, said that making people aware of their paper use might reduce the 38.6 percent of all garbage in the country that winds up in landfills as paper.

'We want them to recycle as the norm,' he said.

Students and staff suggested many ways to save paper that day.

Taylor Blackthorne mentioned use of the school's computer network by students and staff so that papers could be exchanged and graded via computer.

'Students can be very motivated,' she said. 'It just sometimes takes a jolt.'

Cliff Norby didn't need a jolt. He was already minimizing paper use on his own.

'I don't use the printers here that often,' he said. 'Most of my work is done online. I don't print anything unless I need to.'

He receives worksheets and assignments online.

Staff members were doing their part, too.

Nikki Stroup, a second year employee, said her students already used computers for searches and quizzes. She also uses the computer to lecture.

'This year, I e-mail assignments two thirds of the time,' she said. 'Whatever they complete, they e-mail back to me, and I grade them online.

'I'm a big environment person. Kids aren't aware of it as much as they should be. They care, and once they know about it, they can see how important it is.'

She recommended that people be informed on conservation at an early age.

Wind Lothamer, technology and alternative education teacher, puts his assignments in students' computer folders. He makes PDFs of documents and uses a computer file folder to store them.

He believes in conservation.

'I was doing it with some stuff all along,' he said. '(In the beginning) I was handing out sheets that some students didn't keep.

Students weren't really using them.'

Then, he realized there was another alternative - the computer. By filing his assignments on his Web site, he gives students the ability to access their work from a computer anywhere there's Internet access.

Angie Hammond encouraged that kind of teaching. She said that technology and the subsequent conservation of paper promotes real-time learning.

'The paperless system increases learning, which increases comprehension and the opportunity to capitalize on the moment,' she said. 'Technology increases the learning experience.'

Organizers were expecting resistance to No Print Day, but they found most people participated wholeheartedly.

'The next day there was a visual sign of a reduction in paper use,' said Hammond. 'People are trying to think of different ways to save paper. They're more conscious of it now.'

Other students also realized the importance of continuing to conserve paper.

'If they really want to make a difference,' said student Michael Dearborn, 'they would find a way to waste less paper long-term, instead of just one day.'

That's exactly what the groups plan to do. However, it will take some time for people to get used to the idea.

Until then, West Linn High School will be holding a No Print Day once a month on the second Wednesday of the month. The next scheduled No Print Day is April 10.

Cindy Garrison is employed by the West Linn-Wilsonville School District, and occasionally writes an article for the Tidings.