Metamorphosis of a Green Flag Eco-School in Centreville, Virginia

Centreville Elementary School is one of only a few Green Flag Eco-Schools (Laura Hickey)
Last Friday, I had the privilege of conducting the in-person Green Flag Assessment for Virginia’s Centreville Elementary School.

Elaine Tholen, Fairfax County Public Schools’ environmental coordinator, greeted me at the school, along with at least 30 students and several teachers.  They displayed for me their great Eco-Code, and ran through the Code’s meaning, which they will be doing as an online announcement for the school.

It’s such a joy to see the enthusiasm of young students and their teachers, and really absorb how much they have learned in their journey to become a Green Flag school.  The school grounds at CES—featuring a certified Schoolyard Habitat—are amazing.  The students have planted native species, along with vegetable and herb gardens, and a sensory garden for their special needs students.

Every class at CES spends at least one hour in their outdoor learning areas each week. Among their other projects:

  • Fourth grade teacher Mrs. Settlemyre and her class are researching the Eastern bluebird, building nesting boxes and using technology (iPads and QR Codes) to connect visitors and students to information on the bluebirds that visit their school.
  • Second grade teacher, Nia Manoleras, and her students educated me on the lifecycle of Monarch butterflies—they planted milkweed especially for these winged beauties, and have a space in their classroom where they can watch the metamorphosis from caterpillar egg to chrysalis to butterfly.  The students knew the answer to every question posed about the insects, proving how effective a learning method this hands-on approach really is.

The school grounds at CES--including a certified Schoolyard Habitat--are impressive (Laura Hickey)
As I was leaving the school, it struck me that NWF’s Eco-Schools USA and Schoolyard Habitats programs can be a way to significantly change, even metamorphosize, a school and its students.  Physical changes to the school are important—but that lifelong learning and caring for nature and the environment that is imbued in students at such a young age is the true achievement.

Congratulations, Centreville Elementary School, on your many accomplishments.  We look forward to awarding you the prestigious Eco-Schools Green Flag and including you in the ranks of the other USA Green Flag schools!

You can read more about monarch butterflies or our Schoolyard Habitat program or find out how your school can become certified through NWF’s Eco-Schools USA program.