Green in Action Honorary Mention
Burns Science & Technology Charter School
Oak Hill, FL
In 2009 the Volusia School District closed the community K-5 school due to budget cuts, and prepared the 1960 building on 11 acres for demolition. Community outcry, fundraising, personal sacrifice and donations were sufficient to purchase the property and establish a “green” charter school, which opened in August, 2011. With caring partners like Home Depot, Green Flamingo Organic Farm, Farm Bureau, Hawes Nursery, Master Gardeners, and local Garden Club, our students in every grade, K-8, were part of vegetable and flower gardens, landscaping the grounds, and planting trees that represented local community leaders of the past. Since the city of Oak Hill is a rural east coast community, located on the Mosquito Lagoon, it was known as a fishing and citrus town. Students planted citrus trees on campus to honor the memory of Jacob Davy Mitchel, first settler (1860), and Howard Putnum, Florida Senator, who owned large citrus groves.
The 5th graders headed up the Recycle project, providing containers in each classroom for paper, pop tabs, and campus containers for aluminum cans and plastics. Parent teams have offered much support, and there are class competitions each month for the most items collected. Each day assigned 5th grade students, who have studied composting, collect items from the cafeteria and classrooms for their compost project. The PTA and School Advisory Council are also working with our Engineering Club and Agriculture Club to support their combined efforts to establish an adequate greenhouse. The on-going project should be completed in the fall. Primary classes have just completed their “salad gardens” and enjoyed their celebration activity on Friday.
The school has received word from the Canaveral Seashore Park,( headquarters at Seminole Rest, located a mile from the school), that together they received a $14,000 grant for intermediate and middle school students to be trained as Junior Rangers, leading a study of native plants that help with shoreline erosion. Students will be planting “seedlings” and making “oyster mats” along the Indian River, also known as the Intercostal Waterway, and Mosquito Lagoon. This summer, teachers will be hired by the Park Service to begin the project in preparation for the August project. The school has recently set up an “adjunct classroom” in the caretaker’s house on the National Park Indian Mounds, and students are permitted to do projects at this site on a weekly basis.
For their first year, Burns Sci-Tech has accomplished a great deal, and their goal is to achieve the designation of a “Green School” by the State of Florida by next year. Congratulations and best of luck!