School's wetland will be home for animals, lessons

Neighbors

May 10, 1999|By Lisa Breslin | Lisa Breslin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

AFTER ALMOST TWO years of planning and slicing through red tape, the Charles Carroll Elementary School community's dream of having its own pond and wetland habitat is becoming a reality.

On the north side of the school was once a parking lot that is now a hilly and difficult place to mow. Over the next two to five years, it will be transformed into a pond, complete with a water infiltration system and a hibernaculum.

A hibernaculum, most pupils at the school can tell you, is a winter residence for plants and animals -- a place for them to hibernate until temperatures are more balmy.

FOR THE RECORD - An item in Lisa Breslin's neighborhood column in Monday's editions said students from the Gateway School in Howard County had helped with an environmental project at Charles Carroll Elementary School. In fact, the Gateway School in Carroll County participated.
The Sun regrets the error.
Pub Date: 5/12/99

The school's environmental pond project started with giddy whispers and visions of what could be created after teachers Karen Proctor and Mary Mark Munday attended a workshop at Hashawha Environmental Appreciation Center outside Westminster in 1997.

Pupils were invited to join the CHECK Club (Charles Carroll Helpers of the Environment and Caring Kids), and take part in planning and building the project.

The project has gone through stops and starts as the teachers sought the necessary approvals and potential sources for funding. But with the help of Dave Herring, a civil engineer with the Carroll County schools; Martin Covington, the storm water management program engineer for Carroll County; parents; grandparents; Boy Scouts; teachers; students and local businesses, pond construction has begun.

Over the past few weeks, students from the Gateway School in Howard County have helped haul concrete and asphalt from the old parking lot to trucks to be carried away.

Dave Beall, a local farmer, brought his front loader, borrowed a dump truck from a neighbor and found a place willing to take the concrete and asphalt.

Jeff Proctor, Karen Proctor's husband, built large sieves to help the children sift out rocks; Carl Cessna, grandfather of Travis Smith, first grade, and Crystal Smith, fifth grade, is picking up clay donated by C. J. Miller tomorrow. Bill Hahn, leader of a local Boy Scout Troop, has also contributed clay.

A working model of the infiltration system, constructed by Jeff Proctor, sits outside the doors of the main office, and countless people have watched in awe as dirty water pours into a tank, settles, filters and runs out the side via two pipes. The filtered water is as clear as glass.

When the school's environmental pond project is complete and Dave Staccone, father of fourth-grader Brandon Staccone, has rerouted some pipes, water runoff from the baseball field and the school roof will travel through an infiltration system of clay, gravel and sand.

From the Charles Carroll pond it will flow down Big Pipe Creek to the Monocacy to the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay.

"The Charles Carroll project is something with purpose; it shows how in a limited space you can make a simple pond that helps all kinds of plants and critters and improve the water quality," said Herring.

This is the first such system built at a school in Carroll, although there is a water quality pond at East Middle and a filtration system at West Middle, according to Herring.

The lessons engendered by this project have only just begun -- pupils have mapped out the path of the water and studied infiltration systems as well as plant and animal life. Over the years, teachers hope the pond will also be an in-house field trip.

"It can support the pond life curriculum in kindergarten, the insect curriculum in second grade, and all the units about native plants and the Chesapeake Bay," said Munday. "Students can go there to read, or draw illustrations of plant and animal life. We are excited about all the possibilities."

Because of their networking within and outside the school for help, Proctor and Munday hope a lot of people feel a sense of ownership and pride in the environmental pond project.

"I told one of the students from Gateway that once she had helped haul rocks away, she was part-owner of the pond," Proctor said.

Members of the school's CHECK Club include: first grade, Brent Budge, Shawn Ullrich, Jeremy Lowe; second grade, Meghan Budge, Adalyn Naka, Chris Taylor; third grade, Julia Beach, Shane Anderson, Graham Cox, Brandon Myers, Michael Oliver, Jonathan Proctor, Katie Milliken, Megan Shultz, Justin Ullrich and Dominic Balassone.

Also, fourth grade, Samuel Loewner, Cherie Spradley, Gabrielle Balassone, Alexander Naka, Nick Smith; fifth grade, Lindsey Smith, Crystal Smith, Erin Milliken, Nick Suter, Kris Buckler, Derek Myers, and Angela Barbagallo.

Expenses have been covered by a $500 grant from Hashawha and donations from the school's Parent Teacher Association.

Lisa Breslin's Central neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

Pub Date: 5/10/99

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