Churchill Road Elementary Earns Eco-Schools USA Green Flag Award

Churchill Road Elementary School has become the third Fairfax County public school to earn the Eco-Schools USA Green Flag Award and will receive its award at a ceremony this Friday (October 5) at 9 a.m.

Churchill Road Elementary is the eighth school in the U.S. to earn Green Flag recognition.

Churchill Road students, administrators, staff members, and families have worked together to integrate the Eco-Schools USA program objectives throughout the entire school. With Eco teams focused on art, energy, communications, waste reduction, and business, and with the active support of the Student Council Association, the school has been working to save money and reduce waste while increasing students’ environmental awareness and improving academic performance.

Principal Don Hutzel has encouraged 100 percent school participation and, through the school’s improvement plan, Churchill Road has seen its lunch waste drop 90 percent via composting and recycling. Unused cafeteria food is donated to local food banks.

Outdoor classrooms

The school’s gardens and learning sites are designed to be outdoor classrooms. Teachers create lessons that integrate core curriculum into the eco-education program. The outdoor learning labs provide opportunities for students to apply and extend their classroom studies.

For example, students in third grade grew papyrus, cotton, soybeans, and other crops while they learned about ancient civilizations. This provided the children with opportunities to read, write, experiment, and apply their classroom knowledge from many disciplines.

The fourth grade took their environmental studies one step further by holding a farmer’s market. They began by researching herbs used in colonial times (a focus of the fourth grade curriculum), then planted these herbs in the school’s greenhouse in February.

Working with teachers and parent experts, the students developed product pricing, branding, and packing strategies around the herbs they were growing. The final products were sold in a farmer’s market in June. This was the first of what is expected to be an annual event.

In Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), there are nearly 50 registered Eco-Schools; schools can earn the Green Flag Award, the highest recognition, as well as bronze and silver level awards.