NBCA Is a Michigan Green School

New Branches Charter Academy
Has Earned Emerald Status for the 2023-24 School Year


NBCA has been participating in the Michigan Green Schools initiative for 7 years, and through our environmentally-focused efforts, we've dedicated ourselves to ensuring our students are doing their part for our planet. In order to become a Green School, a school and its students must perform a required number of activities to prove their efforts.

We are proud to say that we reached Emerald status in the 2023-2024 school year! For us to reach the status of an Emerald School we must have completed 15 total activities with at least two activities from each of four categories listed below.

Previous Years:

  • 2022-23 Emerald Award
  • 2021-22 Emerald Award
  • 2020-21 Emerald Award (COVID restrictions brought us down to Emerald)
  • 2019-20 Evergreen Award (highest destination)
  • 2018-19 Evergreen Award
  • 2017-18 Evergreen Award
  • 2016-17 Emerald Award (1st Year NBCA applied for designation)

Michigan Green Schools is a non-profit 501(c)3 agency dedicated to assisting all Michigan schools - public and private - achieve environmental goals which include protecting the air, land, water and animals of our state along with world outreach through good ecological practices and the teaching of educational stewardship of students pre-kindergarten through senior high school.

Check out our environmental efforts for the 2023-2024 school year below!



NBCA recycles all of the following materials:

  • Paper
  • Plastics
  • Metal/Aluminum Cans


Community Partnership with Kent County's Recycling and Education Center

6th grade classes made a visit to the Kent County Recycling and Education Center in years' past to speak with their Recycling Expert and Education Specialist for a tour!

In collaboration with what they learn in the Environmental Science class, students have led classroom and school-wide recycling efforts, auditing each class to see how well they recycled each week.


New Branches Charter Academy composts lunch food waste

The EcoArt teacher has started a small vermicomposting worm bin the classroom. Fruit and veggie scraps from lunch food waste are used in the bin and added to the school garden's soil.

New Branches Charter Academy students speak with Kent County Recycling Center Recycling Directors as well as Education Specialists to learn new recycling efforts and strategies.
NBCA staff tend to recycling bins posted around the perimeter of the school to ensure that plastic and cans among other resources get recycled.
New Branches Charter Academy uses their Power Savers logo as a coloring contest for Earth Day celebrations
New Branches Charter Academy uses blender bikes to promote renewable energy sources during Earth Day



We promote school-wide energy conservation

A community member designed a Power Savers logo exclusively for the school about 6 years ago. The logo was made into small laminated signs to serve as reminders above all classroom light switches, as well as around the building. The sign serves to help students and staff be energy-conscious by remembering to turn off lights when leaving the room.


Earth Day Celebrations focus on energy conservation and awareness

Every year we spend all of April celebrating Earth Day and environmental consciousness, turning our Power Savers logo into a coloring contest, completing worksheets on home-energy usage, and participating in carnival games and activities.


We showcase our Blender Bikes to promote human-powered renewable energy

Since our Earth Day Family Night event in 2020 we have showcased and demonstrated our human-powered blender bikes. We use renewable energy in the form of families and students "riding" the bike to spin the blades in the blender with accompanying laminated infographic posters with fun facts.

Environmental Protection


Our Environmental Science class works on an annual watershed project

As part of our Environmental Science specials course, 7th-grade students complete project-based lessons focused on watersheds throughout the year. In the 2023-2024 school year students have learned basic information on the nearby Plaster Creek watershed and larger Grand River watershed. This included a field trip in February to the Grand Rapids Water Resource Recovery Facility, a boat tour scheduled for April, and field trip scheduled in May to the WMAEC's Teach for the Watershed trip near Ken-O-Sha Park.



New Branches Charter Academy plants native species alongside their pollinator gardens

In spring, our community will be planting additional native species to continue developing our pollinator gardens along the front landscaping area of the school building and in the back butterfly courtyard area. This summer and fall students and staff revamped the butterfly courtyard pollinator garden area, first established in spring 2017, by removing weeds, covering the area with cardboard and woodchips, and planting over 100 native species.

As part of Environmental Science specials class focusing on watershed stream health, 7th grade students practiced their macroinvertebrate sampling skills in the classroom in April! The presence of certain benthic macroinvertebrates (aka - bugs/critters found living at the bottom of a stream) can tell us if a stream is healthy or polluted.
New Branches students work dilligently to expand on their pollinator garden and butterfly courtyard outside of the classroom.
New Branches Charter Academy student and staff recycle along nearby paths together to promote environmentally consciousness
New Branches Charter Academy students work together in the school yard to plant and harvest native plants.

Miscellaneous Efforts


We have established a Student Green Team to promote environmental awareness at the school

A Student Green Team, led by the Environmental Science specials teacher, was established in February of 2024. The first meeting was held on Friday, February 23 and meetings are held every Friday for 45 minutes during the school day. Currently, team members include students ranging from 5th grade to 8th grade. The goal of the Student Green Team is to help promote environmental awareness at the school and support the school’s environmental goals including the recycling program, composting program, etc.



Our Environmental Pillar committee organized a Sustainability Clothing Drive

The staff Environmental Pillar committee organized a Sustainability Clothing Drive in the Fall of 2024 to promote environmental sustainability by reusing clothing items instead of tossing them in the trash. Staff spent one week collecting gently used children's and adult's clothing. They washed, folded, sorted, and displayed the clothing on tables on the gym stage. Families and students were able to visit the "store" after school during an advertised week and shop free of charge.