Forest Oak Middle School recently was named a 2001 Governor’s Green School, one of only 15 in Maryland this year. The school received a citation from Governor Parris N. Glendening during a ceremony on June 5 at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. The award recognizes the school’s focus on the environment as a context for learning and its commitment to use best environmental practices in the daily operation of the facility.
At Forest Oak, every instructional team is participating in training in environmental-issue instruction and has planned units to implement with students. In May 2000, the school was designated a Bay School by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for its efforts to use the local environment as a framework for instruction, and teachers consult regularly with Foundation representatives.
With guidance from school staff, students are involved in a number of nature restoration projects. Last fall, 70 eighth grade students worked with volunteers from the Forestry Board to plant more than 70 trees on a hill near the school. Plans also are underway to increase vegetation in nearby wetland areas, plant a colonial herb garden, and build bat and bird houses. In addition, students are responsible for placing conservation messages by light fixtures and assisting with the school’s successful recycling program.
Forest Oak Middle School has developed a number of community partnerships to promote good environmental practices. For example, science students and teachers are currently working with the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection to survey radon levels in neighborhood homes. In addition, staff members from the county Environmental Protection Agency have partnered on several projects such as worm composting, garden planting, and stream monitoring.
Principal John Burley, students and staff were presented with a Green School banner and flag to display at the school, along with free admission passes to the aquarium. They are already planning on new environmentally-focused projects for the next school year.