by Lisa Tome
If you want to learn how to save the environment, ask a third grader.
"We turn off the lights when we're not using them," said Trevor David.
"Last week, I was doing the milk jugs - taking them to the recycling bin," said Mackenzie Lines.
"We have worms in our classrooms for gardening composting. We save the lunch from lettuce and we feed them," said Ashley Burke.
The efforts of these students and about 340 others, are part of what earned Bainbridge Elementary School the coveted Green School effort.
"It's a long process, It was a group effort," said teacher Karen Mazza.
Mazza and fellow teacher Jenessa York both took classes to learn to bring the green school program to Bainbridge.
They and others helped to implement the various practices. The school also partnered with Maryland Extension and North Bay during the process.
"There are a ton of requirements and every grade level was involved," said Mazza.
Students studied recycling with Tanya Adams, the Recycling Coordinator for Cecil County.
They then put what they learned into practice, collecting milk jugs after breakfast and lunch everyday. Students erected toad and butterfly houses and constructed a bird sanctuary. They are responsible for maintaining food, water, and housing for the wildlife.
They also built rain gardens. Energy patrols check the school hallways to make sure lights are switched off when not in use. Light switches at the school have reminder tags on them.
"There have been big changes. Recycling is a big thing and you see kids doing it. Yesterday (last week) when it was raining, they were testing the water," said Mazza. "At first, it was us (teachers) teaching the students. Now they have taken over."
Earning the Green School award is separate from the curriculum. Mazza said teachers work to tie it into what students are learning.
The Green School Award is presented by the Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Education. In order to earn this award, a school must have a demonstrated and documented effort to integrate green practices. Some of those practices include environmental curriculum, professional development, and community engagement.
Bainbridge will celebrate their Green School achievement with a celebration in early June. They have to be recertified every two years to maintain the Green School designation.