At Bushy Park, Earth Day Every Day is not just a saying, but a way of life. As you walk through our school, you will see students turning off lights, using recycled materials, and learning about our environment. The staff at Bushy Park integrates being responsible environmental citizens in all subject areas. Our community partners help guide us into best practices in regards to our wetland environment. From Preschool through Fifth grade our students are becoming stewards of the earth. From dissecting owl pellets to planting trees our students take an active role in learning about our world. They are immersed in learning about different habitats and how humans have an impact on animal lives. They can recite the Three R's (reduce, reuse, recycle) and apply them daily. Our kindergarteners and first graders have become leaders in recycling and take turns being recycling monitors during lunch and indoor recess. The teachers have reached out to the community to bring in hands-on learning experiences into the classroom. We are raising Bluegills in conjunction with the Department of Natural Resources in fifth grade and a Diamondback Terrapin from the National Aquarium and the Port of Baltimore in fourth grade. Our Green Machine after school club is made up of third and fourth grade students who want to make a difference in our school. These students volunteer their time to spread the word about the impact we have on our environment. Activities such as the Ban the Bag Pledge, Plastic recycling collection and Selfies for the Sea created awareness for students and staff. The Green Machine students have acted as stewards and messengers, spreading the Green word throughout our school and the community. Our fifth graders have taken the initiative with our school-wide recycling program. Every Thursday, during their recess fifth graders take turns collecting the recycling throughout the building. The fifth graders are extremely invested and being a recycling partner is a highly coveted role at our school. Bushy Park continues to strive to save energy wherever possible. Turning off lights and electronic equipment is second nature to our students. Our building has so much natural light, that on most days the lights never get turned on. To help reduce our carbon footprint, the students take many walking field trips. These field trips include our local library, fire station, and park. Although for safety reasons students do not walk to school, over 80% take the bus rather than using a family car. Rather than sell consumer products, the PTA's annual fundraiser is the Bushy Bear Dash. Students are sponsored to run or walk a designated outdoor path. This activity promotes outdoor wellness and a healthy lifestyle. We continue to promote outdoor wellness throughout the year with Walking Wednesdays. This is an optional program sponsored by the PTA for students to do during recess to get them moving and have fun. Every year our fourth graders work with an artist in residence on a project that is permanently displayed in our hallways. These projects have included fiber arts murals with a focus on biomes, animals, and the Chesapeake Bay. They have also included painted murals of sea life, Maryland, and a stained glass project that reflects the world's biomes. All these projects are an extension of student research. Ours staff has participated in professional development on environmental issues from tagging Monarchs to planting oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. Teachers have engaged in meaningful PD experiences that are reflected in their students’ level of engagement as they learn. Our skilled teachers have also given professional development at county in-services on the use of science journals with third graders. It is evident that Bushy Park has conservation first and foremost in everything we do. From student-driven recycling to the custodial staff's commitment to conservation, everyone has a stake in making every day Earth Day at Bushy Park.
Bushy Park Elementary Top Five:
1. School Wide Behavior Changes- With great effort, our PTA and administration worked hard to insert new water fountains which supply filtered water for water bottle dispensing. Over the past few years, teachers were given mugs and 'Tervis Tumblers' to encourage a "Bring your own" mug or cup motto to work. Students are also encouraged to bring clear water bottles to school to stay hydrated. 2. Waste Reduction- Our staff and students make great efforts to reduce the amount of waste created at our school as well as re-purposing many materials. From the art room to first grade many creative solutions are saving materials from being consumed. Even our "Girls on the Run" group re-purposed old t-shirts to make bags to sell for a charity fund raiser.
3. On-site Field Trips - Bushy Park is reducing our carbon footprint by having performers and instructors come to us. We are fortunate enough to have space to have these many functions. We have had Patapsco Valley State Park Rangers, Master Gardeners, Smithsonian Discovery Theater, and others come teach our students about the environment at school. Other on site trips allowed a reduction in bus transportation.
4. Environmental Education- Teachers at Bushy Park do an outstanding job of giving our students hands-on experiences learning about the environment. Through the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Department of Natural Resources our students are raising turtles and Blue Gill fish to be released back into nature. These creatures are a constant reminder of the impact we have on the environment. The addition of our outdoor classroom space has allowed teachers to get students outside for more lessons.
5. Community Partnerships - Our strong parent support allows us us able to give back to the community through coat drives, collecting used books, and many other charitable activities. They also support our school to be healthy, through activities like the Bushy Dash fundraiser and Walking Wednesdays. We have added after-school exercise programs for staff, boys and girls. Family Fun Fit night has become a highly attended wellness event for families as well.