Catonsville Elementary Strives to Go Green
The school is in its second year of green certification.
From reducing trash to turning off the lights to walking or biking to school, students in Catonsville Elementary School are paying attention to how their school impacts the environment.
The school is in it second year of becoming a Green School, which is a state program that recognizes schools that have activities and curriculum meant to educate students about the environment.
One way the school is becoming more environmentally friendly is by choosing one day a month when students are encouraged to walk, bike or take the bus to school.
Nancy Henderson, one of the co-chairs of the green committee and an instructional assistant at the school, stood at the front door on Wednesday morning giving out tickets to students who walked, biked, carpooled or took the bus.
While the number of students who walked or biked was lower Wednesday because of the threat of bad weather, Henderson said she has seen a difference in the number of parents dropping off their children on those days.
The school has also set up a more specific recycling program in the cafeteria, with different bins and examples of what can be recylced and what is trash. The school's cafeteria and custodial crews keep track of how many bags of trash they put out every day. Students also made covers for light switches as reminders to turn off lights when leaving a classroom. And there are recycle bins in all the classrooms.
While the initiative is still new, the school has already seen tangible results in some areas.
During the 2010 school year, the school spent $67,000 in energy conpared to the previous school year, when $76,000 was spent for the same purpose, according to facilities records.
Principal Linda Miller said students have been more than willing to embrace the initiatives.
"They're a different generation coming through that are more environmentally aware," she said.
Librarian Rebekah Kaufman, the co-chair of the environmental committee, said she thinks the students are learning habits that will stay with them long after they leave school.
In fact, a new project that students got behind was making a trash sculpture out of 100 pieces of trash that were brought on the 100th day of school recently.
When visiting the classroom where the trash sculpture stood, students talked about how all of that trash was bad for the environment.
The school also hosted its first environmental fair this fall and in the spring hopes to do more planting on the school grounds.
The designation will be awarded to the school likely at the end of next school year.
"It gives us a tangible piece of what we know, what we're doing and what can work toward," Kaufman said.