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ECO Program

ECO, An Overview
Camo sticker that reads Environmental Classroom Opportunity Marcus Whitman Middle School
Marcus Whitman Environmental Classroom Opportunity Program opened in September 1997. ECO is a Marcus Whitman Middle School "curriculum of choice" for sixth-grade students who have chosen to participate by lottery. ECO serves a variety of district students across academic and socioeconomic backgrounds. ECO’s academic curriculum emphasizes experiential, project-based learning with an environmental focus.
ECO’s purpose is to provide "public school choice" through an alternative curriculum.  ECO has an expectation of parental involvement in a student’s education through ongoing home-school communication and “whole school” meeting attendance seven times a year.  Teachers undertake greater professional responsibility through additional instructional assignments, extensive time commitment, frequent parental contact, and personal involvement with students.
Students study a curriculum based on the New York State learning standards incorporating many “experiential” activities.  These involve several themes: watershed study, business enterprise, field and forest / flora and fauna study, environmental issues, outdoor recreation, service, and community.
ECO students care for tomorrow’s environment by learning and serving in today’s!

Please know: ECO 2023-2024; YEAR 27!

  • ECO is an academic program with high expectations for a student to be participative, productive and to do his/her best efforts throughout the year. We support all students.
  • ECO is a “writing intensive” curriculum. This means a student must be willing to write across the curriculum in different assignments. We help all writers to grow.
  • Our school day may extend to 3 p.m., and students are expected to be present unless all class responsibilities have been appropriately met or a student has a scheduled appointment and is dismissed by the teacher. Over time many students also demonstrate their personal capacity to work independently at home as needed and will be dismissed at 2:19 p.m. if desired.
  • ECO students participate in many “field-based learning experiences” that include hiking, camping, and kayaking activities that are away from campus and standard toilet facilities.
  • ECO students visit various religious faith communities including a Christian church, a Jewish synagogue, an Islamic mosque, and a Buddhist monk as part of the social studies curriculum. This may include a Hindu community as well.
  • Each student and family are expected to participate in a parent-student-teacher conference in the fall or scheduled as needed.
  • Each student and family are expected to participate in scheduled “ECO Whole School Meetings” during the evening several times a year.
  • ECO students should enjoy being outdoors in diverse environments.
  • Families are occasionally asked to make a small monetary donation to offset some activity expenses, but there is always scholarship support if a family is in need. This may range from $3-$8 two or three times during the year.
  • ECO is challenging, but it is a very rewarding experience that “grows” students academically, socially, and personally. We even have daily recess!
  • ECO serves all students, but it is essential that a student wants to participate and is willing to do the academic assignment work on a regular basis.
  • ECO is a choice.
  • Please make the proper choice to become an ECO student based upon your interest and willingness to participate fully; otherwise another child may miss an important learning opportunity.
  • For more information, please contact Malcolm MacKenzie (home: 585-374-6162; or Samantha Wolf (home: 585-905-0199;

May 2023