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Hammond a 'Green School'
 
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Sun Staff
Originally published April 24, 2005
EVERY Wednesday, pupils at Hammond Elementary School are encouraged to bring environment-friendly lunches - food packed in plastic or other containers that can be cleaned and reused.

First-graders wrote letters to Howard County public works officials, asking for more recycling bins in their neighborhoods.

And fifth-graders in a Chesapeake Bay Club seminar class made concrete reef balls for use in the bay as oyster habitats.

For those efforts, Hammond was one of 10 schools statewide in 2005 - and the only one in Howard County - recognized as a "Green School" by the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education, a consortium of educators, nonprofit groups and state agencies.

"It has opened the eyes of a lot of kids to things that they thought they didn't have control over," said Sally Oswald, a gifted-and-talented resource teacher at Hammond and Bollman Bridge elementary schools. "Some kids have said to me, 'What can we do? We're just kids.'"

For three years, Oswald has taught the Chesapeake Bay Club class, which is open to any fifth-grader interested in the environment. With each year, interest in environmental projects has grown, drawing the involvement of various grades and the community, Oswald said.

The "Green School" award recognizes schools that demonstrate a holistic approach to environmental education, said Carol Towle, executive director of the association.

That means the school integrates the environment into lessons across the curriculum, follows environmental practices such as energy and water conservation and extends the learning into the community through projects.

Last year, Hammond received a grant to establish a wetland on school grounds. This year, students are planning a butterfly garden, Oswald said.

Next month, Annapolis author Priscilla Cummings - known for her Chadwick the Crab book series, which teaches children about ecology - will make an appearance at the school.

"You're teaching them to be stewards of the earth," Oswald said.

Other "Green School" winners include Medfield Heights and Rosemont elementary schools in Baltimore; William Winchester Elementary in Carroll County; West Annapolis Elementary in Anne Arundel County; Glyndon Elementary in Baltimore County. Elk Neck Elementary in Cecil County; Catoctin Elementary in Frederick County; Scotchtown Hill Elementary in Prince George's County; and Crellin Elementary in Garrett County.

The schools will be honored at a ceremony June 1 at the Catonsville campus of the Community College of Baltimore County.



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