We are proud that our Primary School is a certified Green School. The work needed to execute the initiative was a collaborative effort between faculty, students, parents, the Holy Trinity Church and partners in our community.
As soon as visitors drive up the hill onto the grounds of Holy Trinity: An Episcopal School, they notice unmistakable signs that environmental learning is a core to the school’s philosophy. On the way in, they will pass beautiful trees, each identified with name tags and cared for by the students. Nestled in between the trees is our nature trail, that attracts birds, butterflies, and deer. As visitors walk along the path of the nature trail they can admire the native perennials, shrubs, and grasses. “It’s Easy to Be Green” with our school’s vegetable garden gracing the outdoor learning space across from our quaint chapel. Emerging from under our U.S. A. flagpole is our new international tulip garden surrounded by student made bird feeders.
In the front lobby, a bulletin board declaring that “Kids at Work: Recycle” highlights the Green Team activities and displays pictures of students learning about the environment every day. A 6-foot poster in the hall informs the students which classroom’s bird feeders are being displayed in the tulip garden. Assorted trash bins (plastic and paper) in each classroom remind students the ways to recycle. While, signs in the bathrooms and classroom remind students of ways that they can conserve water and electricity. And these are just special, visible projects that the Green Team has undertaken. What is happening quietly in every classroom daily is an increased emphasis that our students’ have a vital role to play as “environmental stewards” and a change in thinking that, though it constitutes just a small corner of the planet, our school can be an example of how small changes can contribute to a healthy community environment.
Since Holy Trinity: An Episcopal School started working towards becoming a Green School, faculty, staff, parents and students now have support and organization behind their ideas to further the positive environmental impact on their community. This application reflects our Green School accomplishments from academic year 2014-15 to present. We are proud of the changes we have made in our students’ and community’s understanding of and respect for the environment. We hope you enjoy reading about our accomplishments.
Environmental Issue Instruction
1st Grade: Exploration of our Urban Forest/MD Forest Service Junior Forest Ranger Program ( Science)
A year-long unit, 1st graders enjoyed ‘adopting’ a tree in our schoolyard and monitoring the changes it underwent throughout the changing seasons. Students collected and identified autumn leaves. They discussed and identified the different attributes of the leaves and trees. Each month students visited their trees and made observations on the changes they saw by drawing and writing brief reflections. Hiking in the school woods helped students to understand the ways trees grow to adapt to their surroundings. By the end of the year students were able to identify deciduous and conifer trees and relate the products and benefits of trees. The unit culminated with being awarded the Junior Forest Ranger Award by the Maryland Department of Forestry.
2nd Grade: Vermicomposting and Raising Painted Butterflies (Science)
Second graders spent the months of January through May tending worms for vermicomposting! They diligently recycled food scraps from their lunches to feed the worms and recorded the status of the worm bin daily. Students learned about worm’s habitat, diet, and behaviors through a series of observations and hands-on activities. The rich soil produced by the worms was added to plants grown in the garden. Students made observations about worms and what they ate, documenting their findings.
Students cared for butterfly larvae and monitored the physical changes they went through to become a caterpillar, chrysalis, and ultimately a butterfly. They learned about the parts of a butterfly, its diet, how it camouflages, and differences from a moth. The unit culminated with the release of the butterflies.
3rd Grade: Planting Fall Bulbs (Science)
As part of their outdoor science studies, 3rd graders collaborated with our community partner to plant tulip and daffodil bulbs on school/church property. Extending this unit of study, students made observations of bulbs forced for indoor blooming and compared results with those that grew outdoors.
In the fall of 2017, 3rd graders are participating in Journey North Tulip Test Gardens to be a part of an international monitoring of seasonal changes. Students made detailed observations and entered their findings into an international database. Students were then able to partner with another school which gave them an opportunity to compare their findings with other places around the globe. Students enjoyed collaborating with 3rd graders at a school in Anchorage, Alaska to compare their findings.
4th Grade: Outdoor Gardening (Science)
Students develop a deeper understanding of the world around through the involvement with the school garden; our outdoor living science classroom. Preparing garden beds for fall planting by tilling the soil and adding mineral rich nutrients to the soil, students learn where their food has its beginnings. Next, students measure for planting and assemble seed tapes in preparation for planting. After planting, students make weekly observations noting changes in weather, soil, and signs of germination. Students follow their seed’s growth through its life cycle; sampling some of the harvest, sharing the harvest, and leaving some plants to go to seed for next year’s planting. Students expand their studies to include insects and animal in the garden as well as food nutrition.
Teachers were informed of school’s intent to become a Green School at April 5, 2017 Faculty meeting. Holy Trinity Primary School has a total of 27 faculty members teaching classroom and special areas. Faculty members are becoming increasingly involved with professional development to further enrich our environmental awareness.
Holy Trinity: An Episcopal School Primary Division’s “higher” or central level of support is the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. The Holy Trinity Church supports the school through allowing use of the church gardens and grounds as outdoor environmental learning areas. Mr. Tom Sykes, Chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, supports student engagement by mentoring students in the vegetable garden and newly created tulip garden. Through this partnership our students have worked in the church/school garden raising vegetables. Mr. Sykes arranged for students to have their produce donated to the local food pantry. The Holy Trinity Episcopal Church furthered support of the school’s gardening project by their partnership with the Episcopal Diocese in Washington, DC. On October 27, 2017 Holy Trinity Primary School was featured in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington Bulletin with article “A Garden Grows in Bowie”.
Boy Scout Troop #403 supported Holy Trinity School by tilling the soil for the school’s tulip garden. Thanks to the scouts’ support, 3rd graders planted tulips and were able to participate in an international scientific study monitoring seasonal change through Journey North. Mr. Sykes Holy Trinity Church liaison with Boy Scout Troop #403 provided continued mentorship of students throughout the planting and growing season.
Number of Students: Entire school student body: Grades 1-4: 168 students
Others in Attendance: Rev. Leslie St. Louis, Mr. Tom Sykes, Faculty, Staff and Parents
Date: Thursday, October 19, 2017 and annually thereafter
Prior to our first annual Green Day Celebration, our school community was encouraged to wear green and to bring a lunch in reusable containers on Thursday, October 19th. In addition, each class designed and decorated a bird feeder out of a recycled milk jug. Students used recycled milk cartons or yarn to create individual bird feeders decorated with cereal and sunflower seed to take home after our celebration. A bird feeder post was installed in a newly created Tulip/Daffodil garden on the Holy Trinity Lower School campus by our community liaison, Mr. Tom Sykes.
Our beautiful fall school day ended with a dedication ceremony around our new Tulip/Daffodil garden. The students, faculty, staff, Mr. Sykes, Reverend Leslie and parents gathered around the new site. Songs were led by our music teacher. Four fourth grade students served as masters of ceremonies. Student representatives from each grade level (1-4) recited a poem. Reverend Leslie blessed our bird feeders and the new post and garden site. Mrs. Falk, our school director, recognized Mr. Sykes for his help to install the bird feeder post and selected from a jar the names of the four classes whose bird feeders would be first to be hung on the posts. As our activities may change from year to year, we aim to establish a Fall Green Day to kick start involvement in year-long programs to promote caring for our Earth.
Each winter, the school works in collaboration with the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church to support the Warm Nights Program. The Warm Nights Program annually gives shelter and a variety of assistance to homeless individuals and families during the winter. First and second grade students create Earth friendly place mats, blankets and scarfs to welcome the participants of the Warm Nights program and beautify Parish Hall when dinners are served.
The students participated in a “Read to Feed” fundraiser and collected $2,755.36. Our students elected to put these funds toward the gift of an Ark, changing the world two by two. The Heiffer International organization works with individual farmers in impoverished areas to promote economic self-sustainability and good health. They teach the farmers to be self-sufficient so they reproduce the animals so they can their knowledge to be passed on to other villages, creating a chain reaction.