By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(April 4, 2019) Buckingham Elementary, the only Maryland Green School in Worcester County, continues to conduct experiments and use resources to teach using low energy and cost.
A Maryland Green School is a school that creates a healthy environment conducive to learning, while saving energy, environmental resources, and money.
A presentation by Buckingham Elementary School Principal Karen Marx and second grade teacher April Eichelberger to the Board of Education on Tuesday highlighted the accomplishments the school has achieved for creating a sustainable Green School program.
Buckingham Elementary School began its journey to become a Maryland Green School in 2015, when Eichelberger cultivated inspiration for the title. At that time, she was running the after-school program, which served as the catalyst to launch the Green School initiative.
“People often ask me, ‘Why Maryland Green Schools? Why are you so passionate about it?’” Eichelberger said. “It’s because I’ve seen firsthand the impact that green schools can have on an organization.”
Completed projects, including rain water barrels, the creation of a digital newsletter for the school, and designated trash bins for recycled paper and cardboard, serve as reminders to conserve energy throughout the school and an outdoor classroom space at the school. A video also presented the students’ perception of what a green school is and why they are so significant.
Eichelberger offers three commitment levels for the eco-friendly projects offered throughout the school year: low, medium and high.
“Someone that just wanted to be one and done one at one event or donate one thing could do that,” Eichelberger said. “There is a list of action items that someone who is a medium commitment might make phone calls or place orders, or do a project that they could do it at their own pace. Then, I have my high commitment level members, and these are people who teach classes or attend trainings and events, and have kind of been with me every step of the way.”
The programs are sponsored by local organizations through grant funding or donations. Those businesses include the Art League of Ocean City, Maryland Coastal Bays, Stephen Decatur High School, Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, Worcester County Education Foundation, Sherwin-Williams, and Cool Contracting.
Several projects are being planned for this year.
“This year’s students and the 2018-19 Green School team have worked on a presentation that they will bring to the 2019 Youth Action Summit, which is the first one that’s being held in our area this year on April 5 at the Ward Museum [in Salisbury],” Eichelberger said. “[The students] will be asking for funding to further improve our recycling process at our school and make it more streamlined.
“They would like to see every classroom have labels and the exact same options for every person in every room, throughout our school,” she continued. “The students put together a budget and a slideshow … we’re talking about third and fourth graders, so it’s pretty exciting to see them get involved. This is one action steps that will help make this program self-sustaining.”
Most important for Eichelberger is the chance to encourage more people and schools to participate and become Maryland Green Schools. She said no matter how big or small the impact was, it contributes to the process.
“If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a Green School … if there’s other schools out there that would like more information, I’d be happy to get you started,” Eichelberger said. “I can’t tell you how many times people would say, ‘Well, I really didn’t do much.’ [Then] I’d say, ‘All those little things we had together are the reason that we became a Maryland Green School’ and it meant a lot to me.”