Part II: Summary Page
Laurel Woods Elementary has been evolving as a Green School for several years. What started as a small, "Make it Green" GT club has grown into a schoolwide culture. Students have become more aware of their environment and have actively participated in the Green School certification process. This is evident in our school's Curriculum and Instruction, our Best Management Practices and our Involvement with the Community.
"Laurel Woods should be a certified Green School because they encourage students to recycle their used products. They teach us about the damages of pollution and different ways to prevent or stop pollution." -Boihitta T.
Curriculum and Instruction
The Howard County Public School System provides a Science curriculum that teaches the skills and processes of science. Starting in first grade, students are given the opportunity to explore the living Earth, with hands-on lessons and activities within every grade level. The interactions of living things, especially how humans interact and affect their world is analyzed and practiced throughout the curriculum. However, at Laurel Woods, the students and teachers have gone beyond the curriculum guides to provide life lessons to our students. Before and after school clubs extend the school day for students to continue their learning, such as MESA, Zam's Quest, and Green Teams. Students also have opportunities in Related Arts to learn about environmental issues. The Media Center highlights books about the Earth and living Green, Music class teaches the Earth Day Rap, and Art projects reuse and recycle materials. Field trips to the Brighton Dam and HC Conservancy involve our students in the local community.
At Laurel Woods we celebrate our implementation of best management practices with a culminating Earth Day celebration. Last Spring, students were cleaning up the campus, planting flowers and learning about the natural world from scientists and health professionals. This year, we are participating in the Governor's Marylanders Plant Trees 2010 School Challenge with the help of our community partners. Our plans for this Spring include planting native trees and plants for an outdoor education area on our campus.
"At home we recycle, but there is nowhere for us to put the recyclables. So I bring them to school and put them in our school's recycling bin. I only live two minutes away from school." - Kelsey L.
Best Management Practices
Several years ago, the GT program starting a lunch seminar called "Make It Green"and began a recycling program. The students made commercials and announcements, and made sure every classroom had a recycling bin. Today this has grown into a schoolwide effort at solid waste reduction. On Trash Free Thursdays, the trash that is thrown away is weighed and graphed to show the reductions. At the beginning of the year, we averaged about 200 pounds of trash from the cafe. At the last weigh-in, the total trash weighed 145 pounds. In addition, the school recycles ink cartridges, cell phones, batteries, paper and glue sticks.
Making it green has also expanded to our school grounds by implementing natural habitat designs and restoration. Last Spring, the second grade worked with a Master Gardener to design and plant a butterfly garden. Plans are in place to expand that garden with native plants and an educational area so students can observe and learn from the habitat. Also, for the past 2 years, students have created oyster reef balls to help restore the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay.
Water conservation and energy conservation efforts have also grown at Laurel Woods. With the help of Diane Sweeney, the fifth grade Energy Savers team have policed the building for empty rooms with lights on. They have been working on spreading the word about energy conservation through switch plate covers, door hangers, and public service announcements on our morning vodcasts. The H2O kids have sponsored "Water Wednesdays" by providing water saving tips to the school. They have designed brochures and stickers to remind the school to turn off the water. They are excited to stencil the school's storm drains this Spring to remind the community we need to protect our waterways.
"My school is a green school because we turn off the lights when leaving the building." - Alejandra V.
"At home we use reuseable bottles and recycle as much as possible." - J.A.
Community in the School
Laurel Woods has been fortunate to have a strong community partnership with the Grace Community Church in Fulton, MD. Church members have donated time to make our school a beautiful place to learn. They have brought flowers and mulch to fill our planters, have aided in campus cleanup, and have even painted inside the building.
In addition, Laurel Woods has reached out to professionals in Howard County as resources to our school. Plans for the future include increasing our community involvement. Our PTA is also an extremely dedicated group of parents who want a better Earth and learning environment for their children.
Top Five List
1. Recycling Program. The recycling program is fully implemented at LWES. This program is completely inclusive and involves the entire building.
2. Community Involvement. Working together with community members has not only improved our Green School efforts, but has provided meaningful relationships that the students will always remember.
3. Earth Day Celebration. Last year's Earth Day celebration was very successful, and everyone is excited for our upcoming celebration this April.
4. Butterfly Habitat. Students and teachers worked hard to plan and design the butterfly habitat. They are eagerly awaiting the Spring warm weather to expand the native plants and learning area.
5. Environmental Education. Extending the Science curriculum beyond the guides has been very meaningful to the students and staff at LWES. Taking field trips to the Brighton Dam and the Howard County Conservancy, creating watersheds, exploring conservation issues and constructing oyster reef balls has engaged students in real-world applications.