Bellows Spring Elementary School, nestled in a quiet neighborhood along the Route 100 Corridor in Ellicott City, Maryland, opened in 2003 with a school population of about 700 students. In 2009, a two-room addition was built. We are also slated to have another large addition in 2012. Currently, we have a population of 824 students in grades Pre-K through 5. Since we are one of the largest elementary schools in Howard County, our ability to go green has the capacity to impact many families. The school has an active and dedicated PTA consisting of over 350 members. Both teachers and parents are enthusiastic about becoming a Green School and over the last two years they have worked cohesively to raise environmental awareness at Bellows Spring Elementary. Students in grades Pre-K-5 have been involved in a variety of Green School activities that have benefited both the school and the surrounding community.
In regards to environmental education, the Howard County science curriculum provides teachers with engaging activities that highlight environmental activities. However, the teachers at our school consistently go above and beyond by enhancing the curriculum with extension activities that promote the importance and understanding of what it means to be green. Some of our most notable activities in curriculum and instruction over the past two years include having one of the only Chesapeake Bay units in the fifth grade science curriculum and promoting energy conservation awareness during a school wide energy week. Several educators in our building took part in professional development workshops, and as a school, we often celebrate our successes and embraced learning and living “green” together.
Bellows Spring Elementary chose to focus on these four best management practices - Water Conservation/Pollution Prevention, Energy Conservation, Waste Reduction, and Habitat Restoration. In each area, we worked hard to educate students of the benefits to caring about the environment in regards to these particular areas. Our proudest achievements in each area include:
- Water Conservation/Pollution Prevention: community event that included painting local storm drains with Chesapeake Bay Drainage signs to promote awareness of how our actions affect the Chesapeake Bay.
- Energy Conservation: school wide energy week to educate students about energy and the benefits of conserving it for the future.
- Waste Reduction: school wide recycling program that includes fifth grade student safeties who are responsible for managing recyclable materials in the building.
- Habitat Restoration: creating oyster reef balls to help increase the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay.
We realize that becoming a "Green" School takes more than just effort from within. Being able to bring in community partners to help highlight the importance and create understanding of this concept has helped tremendously. Our PTA has been extremely supportive by finding cultural arts presentations that are motivating and fun while promoting our ultimate goal. Both this year and last all students have gained awareness through watching presentations given by Billy B. and The Blue Sky Puppet Theater. We are proud that we have so many willing and supportive local businesses that donated either time or resources to make our Celebrate Green event successful.
On our journey toward becoming a "Green" school, students, staff, families, and local business partnerships shared in the learning and excitement of this current global drive that promotes awareness of environmental education. We hope our efforts are long lasting and make impressions on these children of the next generation so that improvements will be made over time and Bellows Spring can feel that they were a part of making those changes.
1. Community Event- Celebrate Green - an event where the staff and families in the community came together to improve the surrounding neighborhoods and the school yard.
2. School wide recycling in the classrooms is now ingrained in both the staff and students.
3. Reusable bags supplied to both Bellows Spring families and staff allows everyone to be responsible shoppers and to show that being green is important to our school.
4. Oyster Reef balls- Fourth and fifth grade students learned about the oyster population issues and were able to help first hand by creating orbs that were dropped in the bay.
5. Energy Conservation Week- students learned about the importance of energy, its' uses, and ways to conserve through both classroom and school wide activities.