by: Cliff Newell, Kids take a hands-on approach with recycling at South Shore Preschool. They especially like fun things like cardboard tubes. As teacher Kathy Michaud-Tradd said, “It’s amazing what you can do with them.”

South Shore Preschool of Lake Oswego is a sustainable school. In fact, it's official.

The school recently received certification from the Oregon Environmental Council as an Eco-Healthy Childcare facility.

Teacher/director Kathy Michaud-Tradd got to pin the certificate on a bulletin board so it can be appreciated by all her 20 students and their parents.

'More and more people are looking for a healthy environment in a school,' Michaud-Tradd said. 'Now it's official we have one.'

The little school actually has quite a tradition in sustainability, which it has built over the past 40 years in the same three rooms of Lake Oswego United Methodist Church.

'We've always been aware of recycling and reusing,' Michaud-Tradd said. 'It's amazing the way you can re-use paper towel tubes.'

But when a parent attended a PCPO meeting a year ago, she found out the South Shore Preschool was actually on the verge of a nice milestone after listening to a presentation by an OEC member. All they had to do was meet the requirements of a 25-item checklist.

'We realized we already complied with a lot right there,' said Monica Glumbick, president of the school board.

So why not go for the certificate? They did.

South Shore Preschool ultimately met 24 out of the 25 requirements, failing to meet the item calling for a wall-to-wall carpet. Other than that, the school (which is operated as a co-operative) attained 24 out of 25 requirements.

'Some were easy,' Michaud-Tradd said. 'Like having certified plastic toys. But it was hard to test for lead paint because it was hard to find a kit. Our only real change was our cleaning supplies. Now we have the least toxic supplies possible that still can clean.

'Doing this made us much more aware of things, like not letting cars idle in the parking lot so they won't give off a lot of fumes.'

In the end, South Shore Preschool became one of just two schools in Lake Oswego (the other is a private daycare) to get the Eco-Healthy rating.

Certainly, the school had a good person to be in charge, since Michaud-Tradd has long been of a sustainable bent. She was active in the very first Earth Day back in the 1970s.

But the parents wanted to go for it, too.

'This goes with the territory of being a co-op preschool,' Glumbick said. 'There's a lot of grassroots interest in a healthy environment.'

'Our kids like doing this,' Michaud-Tradd said. 'Instead of just sitting in a classroom talking about hiking or planting seeds, they actually go out and do it.'

Now that South Shore Preschool has set this good example, other Lake Oswego schools are sure to follow.

'It's very do-able with the checklist,' Glumbick said. 'I would think a lot more schools will do this.'

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