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Con­grat­u­la­tions to Howard County’s newest Green Schools! Howard County now has 42 offi­cial “green” schools, the most recent 9 being selected ear­lier this year. What does it mean to be a green school? In Mary­land, it means that these schools have com­pleted a 2-year process of inte­grat­ing green prac­tices and edu­ca­tion into the way they do things. Then they put together an appli­ca­tion that was reviewed and approved by the Mary­land Asso­ci­a­tion for Envi­ron­men­tal and Out­door Edu­ca­tion (MAEOE). This is a big accom­plish­ment and takes a lot of effort by teach­ers, stu­dents, and volunteers.

This pro­gram is great because it sets up a struc­ture and guid­ance for how to go about “green­ing” your school. Many peo­ple have good inten­tions to reduce their impact on the envi­ron­ment, but some­times the amount of infor­ma­tion out there can be over­whelm­ing. It also has a big impact because it changes the way the school oper­ates, and these have last­ing effects. Even bet­ter, it brings envi­ron­men­tal aware­ness and empow­er­ment to stu­dents. They par­tic­i­pate in research­ing the issues, mak­ing a plan and tak­ing action.

Schools have improved their recy­cling and waste reduc­tion. They have reduced the amount of energy they use. They have edu­cated stu­dents (and teach­ers) about water con­ser­va­tion and habi­tat preser­va­tion. They have cre­ated school­yard habi­tats, but­ter­fly gar­dens and rain gardens.

Another impor­tant part of the Mary­land Green School pro­gram is form­ing part­ner­ships with the com­mu­nity. This is done in two ways, bring­ing local experts like Mas­ter Gar­den­ers in to help, and tak­ing action out­side of the school grounds with projects like storm drain sten­cil­ing and build­ing oys­ter reef habi­tats that are put into the Chesa­peake Bay.

I can’t say enough what a big fan I am of this pro­gram. It gets the con­ver­sa­tion started and pro­vides a frame­work for schools to fol­low. Con­grat­u­la­tions again to all of the Howard County Green Schools – you deserve it! For a com­plete list of Mary­land Green Schools listed by county, please visit http://www.maeoe.org/greenschools/listing/

Elissa Rei­neck, OES Envi­ron­men­tal Vol­un­teer Coordinator


  1. Elissa Reineck says:

    Linda, Thanks for your com­ment. I agree with you about the com­po­si­tion books. Sev­eral come home each year hardly used. I usu­ally rip out and recy­cle the used pages and let my kids use the note­books over the sum­mer. You can recy­cle com­po­si­tion books whole, don’t worry about the cov­ers. Spi­ral note­books and plas­tic binders are also recy­clable — cov­ers, metal and all. The only note­books that aren’t recy­clable are cloth-covered ones. I also agree about the index cards. My kids’ list did not have any this year.

    About 2–3 years ago, the Howard County school sys­tem did take a look at the school sup­ply list and cut it down con­sid­er­ably, so that is a step in the right direc­tion. I do think it would be worth it to send a note to your prin­ci­pal and the school board while this sub­ject is still fresh in people’s minds.
    ~Elissa Rei­neck, OES Staff

  2. Linda Spano says:

    If we really want to be green at school, let’s look at all those back to school sup­plies. So much is wasted.…too many com­po­si­tion books instead of loose leaf. Need­less index cards that are never used. Let’s be green and take a bet­ter look at truly what is essen­tial. Be green and economical–parents will be delighted 🙂

  3. We also thank County Exec­u­tive Ken Ulman and Super­in­ten­dent Syd­ney Cousin to attend­ing the recent Cel­e­bra­tion of the New Mary­land Green Schools in Howard County. Hand­ing out cer­tifi­cates of recog­ni­tion to those schools shows the sup­port from the County and the level involved.

    With the 14 new Mary­land Green Schools in 2010, there were also 4 schools who “re-certified” as Mary­land Green Schools, which must be com­pleted every 4 years. The com­mit­ment from those schools goes back at least 4 years, but a few have been Mary­land Green Schools for 8 years.

    Train­ing ses­sions for schools inter­ested in becom­ing Mary­land Green Schools is being offered on Novem­ber 4th at the Howard County Con­ser­vancy, Howard County’s only Mary­land Green Cen­ter! Con­tact me for more infor­ma­tion (allison.anderson@hcconservancy.org)

    Great job Mary­land Green Schools.

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