Bishop Chatard nominated as new Thriving School


Students stand with Mayor Joe Hogsett after being named an Indianapolis Thriving School. Photo provided by Mr. Cameron Huffman.

Mary Borchers

Bishop Chatard was nominated and awarded the honor of being named an Indianapolis Thriving School. Thursday, Jan. 17, seven students travelled to the Indiana State Museum to receive the award.

Thanks to Mrs. Brenda Henry, cafetería staff director, and Ms. Catherine Welch, guidance counselor and Green Team club monitor, the grant they proposed will begin receiving funding from the city for next year.

This funding will provide BCHS with a composting service by local company, Green with Indy. Mrs. Henry approximates that in a single day, this will move 30 pounds of food from the cafeteria from landfills to compost. With 160 school days, this can add up to over 4,800 pounds of food.

The entire program is a part of a larger initiative, Thrive Indy,  from the City of Indianapolis and Mayor Joe Hogsett. By 2050, the group hopes to reach carbon neutrality and cut down on food waste. This waste contributes to 8 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. The project’s goal is making the City of Indianapolis a better place to live.

Junior Kellie Keating, who attended, said, “The coolest part was being able to see how what we do at BCHS impacts the environment and seeing what other schools are doing.” Keating added that she learned BCHS is trying to implement a new water bottle fountain in the school to cut back on plastic bottles. She said, “This would benefit many students at BCHS.”

After attending the event, Mr. Huffman, AP Environmental Science teacher, shares his thoughts on the school’s new distinction:

The grant was proposed by Ms. Catherine Welch, counselor, and Mrs. Brenda Henry, cafeteria manager.
Photo courtesy of Mr. Cameron Huffman.

Through the Indianapolis Thriving Schools Challenge, we realized how strong of a community Indy is when it comes to sustainability initiatives. The range of projects we saw today as a result of Thrive Indy was inspiring: elementary students stood proudly next to colorful recycling bins, middle schools transitioned from compost projects to zero waste cafeterias. High schools installed refillable water stations on each floor, ran community gardens, installed energy efficient lighting & windows, and put in rooftop solar projects that met 70 percent of the school’s annual energy demand. We came back energized and passionate to influence change in our community.

This is not just a scientist issue, it’s a policy makers opportunity, and chances for schools, business leaders, engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs, doctors, faith centers, and every day citizens to drive the needle forward. When surrounded by such passionate and unique teenagers, you quickly realize that you’re not alone. We saw hundreds of students, younger and older than ours, all fighting towards a future where not just our local community—but the global community—becomes more resilient to the changes surrounding us. Sustainability makes sense, you do more with less and preserve future resources for the generations that follow. We’re learning that we all have to be better stewards and today was what that’s all about.

In the future, I hope more students develop a passion for sustainability. Right now, we as a society are falling short of addressing the primary role we play in addressing these challenges. They require effort, energy, lifestyle changes, and are often inconvenient. We don’t see them as being here and now—we perceive them as some far away far off problem that will impacts others. We are disconnected from the pressing immediacy that is facing us. By changing our perspective from foreboding to innovative, our efforts can stimulate the economy, create jobs, advance

Students from Green Team and Environmental Science classes attended the ceremony.
Photo courtesy of Mr. Cameron Huffman

human health and engineering, and in doing so we make these projects personally and locally relevant. We elevate our innate drive to learn and to stay curious. We see our neighbors and our own selves affected by environmental change, and we care to take a stand. So, my hope is that you take that stand. Change one thing. Make this fight your fight. To quote my man Leonardo DiCaprio when he addressed the United Nations, “The world is now watching. You will either be lauded by future generations or vilified by them.”