Community Day School Love the learning, Live the Values 

Sustainability at CDS

CDS Middle School dig in the Pesach garden

Research shows the benefit of time spent outdoors for children, where they can explore, play, learn, and imagine guided by their own interests. The commandment of bal tashchit—do not destroy or waste—is central to a Jewish environmental ethic, and it's also vital that our students understand Judaism’s deep connections to nature, including the traditions, values, and holidays that have agricultural roots throughout our history.  

Community Day School’s 7-acre campus in the heart of Squirrel Hill offers a dynamic and beautiful setting for teachers to integrate the outdoor environment into the teaching of every discipline, including science, math, language arts, Jewish studies, social studies, and health. Our outdoor classroom (Mirpeset) and Jewish holiday-themed campus gardens provide engaging, hands-on educational experiences for all students, Early Childhood through Grade 8. 

In addition, our close proximity to Frick Park, Pittsburgh’s largest woodland park with an extensive trail system, and the world-class Frick Environmental Center, expands our students’ opportunities to see and connect with the natural world. For example, as part of their science curriculum, our 1st Grade classes participate in the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Habitat Explorers program, introducing students to local plant and animal communities. Kindergarten receives an annual visit with a Frick naturalist for a hands-on lesson in soil ecology. Middle School students periodically walk to the park for mindful meditation as part of their morning tefillah (prayers). 

Two students examine a spider in the CDS gardens
Three girls play on the natural playground at CDS
CDS student and teacher harvest lavender from campus gardens
A kindergarten student runs through the fall leaves at CDS
Middle School students build a snowman at CDS
1st Grade students hold up their pumpkins to a teacher

CDS Green Team

Sustainability efforts on our campus are driven by the volunteer-led CDS Green Team. The Green Team's  goal is to inspire teachers, staff, students, and their families to become more environmentally responsible in a way that aligns with our Jewish values.

In recent years, the Green Team has:

  • Introduced a composting and recycling system into our lunch room
  • Built and maintained Pesach, Sukkot, and Havdalah teaching gardens on our campus
  • Launched a TerraCycle recycling program
  • Sponsored spring and fall flower sales
  • Implemented an anti-idling awareness program
  • Installed campus rain barrels and a PurpleAir air quality monitor 
  • Created Jewish holiday outdoor programming for Tu B'Shevat, Sukkot, and Shavuot

For more information on how to get involved with the Green Team, contact CDS Sustainability Coordinator Molly Muffet.

Students learn about wild edibles on the CDS campus from a plant expert

CDS Farm Stand

The CDS Farm Stand after-school program takes its participants all the way from farm to table to market! Under the leadership of Jewish environmental educator and CDS parent Josh Friedman, Farm Stand guides students in Grades 2-5 on a hands-on journey through topics such as composting, agriculture, Jewish farming practices, laws, and values, and food justice and distribution. The program was launched through a grant from the Let’s Move Pittsburgh Champion Schools Program in the “Teach Kids to Grow and Cook Food” category. Read more