The USGBC Greater Virginia community held its sixth annual Connect the Dots for Green Schools Challenge Awards on May 4 at The Steward School’s Bryan Innovation Lab in Henrico County, Virginia.
Five exceptional Virginia K–12 schools were honored for participating in the challenge, each implementing a project or program to promote environmental stewardship, encourage creativity and complement curriculum development. Schools are paired with green building industry professionals who serve as volunteer mentors to help the schools plan and carry out their projects over the course of the school year.
Honor Award: Agnor-Hurt Elementary School, Charlottesville, VA
School Champions: Adam Mohr, Courtney Wood, Brittany Mullinex, Marci McKenzie, Michael Thornton, Drew Craft
Volunteer Mentor: Tish Tablan
Agnor-Hurt Elementary School demonstrated a comprehensive approach to promoting sustainability. Centering around a community garden, this school not only constructed their own learning gardens, but also used the vegetables and herbs grown in the garden for cooking classes to promote healthy eating. They also organized a Healthy Living Night for the school and community.
Merit Award: Collegiate Lower School, Richmond, VA
School Champion: Katie Musick
Volunteer Mentors: Anne Rusbuldt, Bo Fairlamb
Collegiate Lower School impressed the judges with the effort they put into developing a food waste composting program in their school. The students here embodied principles of responsible citizenship and advocacy as they presented their proposal to the school’s administration and business office to receive approval for their initiative.
Endurance Award: Clover Hill Elementary School, Chesterfield County, VA
School Champions: Lorena Cavan, Sadie O’Connor
Volunteer Mentors: Carrie Webster, Robbie Roach
Clover Hill Elementary School continues to benefit from years of collaboration between the PTA Green Committee and the Student Environmental Cabinet that includes recycling education outreach, annual “Love Our Earth Week” activities and an annual Green Apple Day of Service where student, parent and teacher volunteers work to improve outdoor learning spaces.
Creativity Award: Binford Middle School, Richmond, VA
School Champions: Kendra Charles, Megan Neal
Volunteer Mentors: Allie Jarett, Gwen Davis, Laura Miller, Virginia Firenzuoli
Binford Middle School worked hard during the past year to grow their Garden Club. The school has creatively recycled existing materials at the school, including a geodesic dome structure, and partnered with organizations such as the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and Fit 4 Kids to gather support for their project.
Research Award: J. B. Fisher Elementary School, Richmond, VA
School Champion: Curtis Edwards
Volunteer Mentor: Laura Sokol
Fisher Elementary School engaged their students throughout the process of developing a rain garden project to enhance existing school gardens and address areas where stormwater runoff can be improved. The students have been involved since day one in determining the problem to address, analyzing the site and researching solutions.
Other participating schools included Cosby High School in Chesterfield County, Echo Lake Elementary School in Henrico County, Glen Allen Elementary School in Henrico County, Monticello High School in Albemarle County, Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts in Richmond City and Swift Creek Middle School in Chesterfield County.
Cash prizes for the winning schools and for all participating schools were made possible through generous donations from local green building firms, including Secure Futures, VHB, Dunlap & Partners Engineering, DMWPV Consulting Structural Engineers, BCWH Architects and Moseley Architects.