School Initiatives

At Garlough teachers and staff have five expectations for student behavior — Responsibility, Effort, Safety, Respect and Kindness. These expectations for students are incorporated into all aspects of a Garlough student's day.  Garlough provides a positive environment where every person is valued and can thrive. Garlough repeats this rap often as a reminder of the expectations:a positive environment where every person is valued and children can thrive.

RESPONSIBILITY means I’m taking charge of me!
EFFORT means you try, working hard to reach the sky!
Staying SAFE at school and play, keeps us smiling every day!
R-E-S-P-E-C-T respecting you, respecting me!
Finally, KINDNESS is the key-spreading peace and harmony!
Know it. Live it. Shout out our theme. We learn together on the Garlough Team!

Garlough Environmental Magnet School (GEMS) follows the 4Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot (Compost)! Garlough teaches students how to properly sort waste in the classroom and cafeteria. Our extensive but easy system consists of 3 sorting bins- recycle, organics and trash. At the end of each school day, Garlough hopes to have less trash and more items in the recycling and organics containers. Garlough also uses compostable lunch trays and breakfast boats. Additionally, after Halloween, Garlough participates in Rubicon’s Trash to Treasure recycling efforts to keep candy wrappers out of the landfill. Garlough has collected about 100 pounds of candy wrapper waste since participating.

In partnership with the GEMS PTO, used art supplies and other classroom materials such as pens, markers, crayons, and glue sticks are removed from the waste stream and recycled with TerraCycle.

PIE Nights are a fun opportunity for Garlough families to come together to learn about reading and math while sharing a meal. Each child who attends PIE Night leaves with a new book! PIE Nights are coordinated through the Garlough Title 1 program. Check the Garlough school calendar for upcoming dates and times.

The Garlough School Forest of 25.57 acres was established in January 2017 and created in collaboration with the City of West St. Paul and through the State of Minnesota, Department of Natural Resources, Forestry Division. The major portion of the school forest property is owned by the City of West St Paul with the balance owned by Independent School District #197. The forest cover type is mainly central hardwoods (14.33 acres), lowland hardwoods (9.22 acres), marsh (2.31 acres) and mowed grass (1.7 acres). Garlough school property is adjacent to the school forest which allows for frequent student/forest interactions and increased learning opportunities.


  • Hoot Hike- An annual after school PTO fundraiser inviting students and families to enjoy a Fall hike at Garlough and Garlough School Forest.
  • EEF- The Environmental Explorers Fair is an annual spring after school event typically near Earth Day. Garlough families are invited to 
  • Plant Sale- The PTO hosts an annual May Plant Sale that benefits Garlough. The community is invited to purchase annual flowers, perennials, native plants, herbs and vegetables. 
  • Dance Around the World

Garlough Environmental Magnet School is fortunate to have an active and involved PTO. The PTO holds fundraising opportunities (Hoot Hike and Plant Sale) that support Garlough's students and teachers. The PTO holds numerous Family Fun Nights/Days- sledding, rollerblading and bowling, and summer play dates at the Garlough school playground. The community garden is coordinated and maintained by PTO volunteers.

LiveGreen is the district wide sustainability program that promotes energy saving and recycling initiatives. Each school throughout the district has a LiveGreen team. Click here to learn more about LiveGreen.

To actively engage students, staff and families in physical activity and healthy eating, the District has implemented a Wellness program. Representatives from throughout the district work together on the Wellness Committee to promote nutrition and exercise initiatives. Learn more about Wellness in School District 197.

Learn about more school initiatives connected to Garlough's Environmental Magnet Theme.