Montgomery County communities come together to create greener schools -- Gazette.Net


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An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but Green Apple Day can make a school healthier, too.

Students and school staff in four Montgomery County Public Schools gardened, planted and painted projects for the first Green Apple Day of Service, a global initiative of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council to create more environmentally sound schools.

Diana Combs, took all four of her children to school Saturday, Sept. 29 and made sure they got some work done.

They didn’t mind. It was the Green Apple Day of Service at A. Mario Loiederman Middle School in Silver Spring, where students helped create a rain garden in front of the school.

Students, staff, parents and even some neighbors — more than 50 volunteers in total — gathered at the school to transform a bland stretch of grass and dirt into an environmentally sound and pleasing looking garden.

“I’m so excited, this is going to be such an improvement,” said Combs, who lives in Takoma Park but has two children attending the school for its arts program.

A rain garden is designed to allow rain water to soak into the soil rather than run off into the street, explained Daniel Summers, with the RainScape program at the Department of Environmental Protection for Montgomery County.

To that end, the volunteers planted shrubs and hundreds of plants including flowering perennials between the sidewalk and the school building. They also installed wood rounds where the edge of the garden and the sidewalk meet to create extra space for students waiting for their school busses.

The new Flora M. Singer Elementary School in Silver Spring held an open house to show off the green initiatives incorporated in the school’s design.

It was more of an informative day than a work day, Assistant Principal Evan Bernstein said.

Broad Acres Elementary School, also in Silver Spring, had volunteers working outside to improve drainage that was causing dirt to cover a playground. They also painted new four-square courts and a chess board on the playground and cleaned up trash and recycling from adjacent properties.

“We collected at least 30 bags of trash and recyclables,” said Vice Principal Bob Geiger, project coordinator for the school’s Green Apple Day program.

Cedar Grove Elementary School in Germantown signed on to the program but will have their day of service at the end of October.

Projects at the school include reconstructing four student-created bottle cap murals in the garden play area and painting outside safety rails.

“We got a late start and there was no point in rushing,” Project Coordinator Chinmay Vyas said, explaining the October date.

Nicole Sosik, Loiederman principal, said the rain garden project was not just a one-day happening at the school.

“This is more like an outdoor education project, students will keep it up and we will expand it,” she said.

Vivian Jacobs and Geneva Reese, Loiederman seventh-graders, worked together planting and mulching the garden.

“I think this is a wonderful project,” Geneva said. “I thought the school could look artsy-er and greener.”

For more information about Green Apple Day of Service, visit www.mygreenapple.org.

pmcewan@gazette.net