From its trash-less lunch days to its restored stream, perennial gardens and recycled art projects, Pinewood Elementary in Timonium has woven green initiatives into its daily activities. The school won national recognition and a bit more green for its earth-friendly efforts Thursday, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.
The National Education Association chose Pinewood for the launch of its Green Across America grants program and presented the school with the first of numerous $1,000 grants that will be awarded nationwide to the most environmentally active schools.
"The grant will help fund more green ideas," said Len Paolillo, a member of the NEA executive committee. "I commend you for your impressive environmental efforts."
The NEA also launched its first Lorax Student Earth Day at the Baltimore County elementary, which has already won a Maryland Green School Award from the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education.
"This school shows the true essence of going green," said Steven Grant, NEA spokesman.
As he read Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax," in which the title character speaks for the trees, to a group of second-graders, Paolillo said he was impressed with the students' environmental awareness.
"You should not chop down trees just to make money," said student Josie Sawyer after hearing the story. "Some people throw paper away instead of recycling it. Maybe nobody thought of that when this story was written."
Phuong Nguyen, her classmate, said, "Some trees are animals' homes. We have to take care of them."
The children snacked on green Gummi frogs and were happily distracted when the Lorax wandered into the dedication of Pinewood's new outdoor classroom. Boy Scout Michael O'Dwyer, 14, created the shady space with a podium and about 30 tree-stump seats, which were originally parts of piers in the Chesapeake Bay, for his Eagle project.
"I know how stuffy a classroom can be," said Michael, a freshman at Towson High. "I think it will be fun for these kids to study outside."
Janice Delaney, the teacher who co-chaired the Earth Day celebration, said she looks forward to outdoor lessons.
"It is just like any other classroom, only it is outside in the beautiful earth," she said.
The students and staff nearly all dressed in green. A few kids, like Andrew Heck and Hunter DeCesare, even dyed their hair green.
"I just wanted to be decorated for Earth Day," said second-grader Andrew.
Hunter, a third-grader, said his mother spiked his hair and applied green gel, "just like she does for every green event."
Fourth-grader Jalen Hickland printed "Earth Rocks" down his left arm and "Reduce, Reuse and Recycle" on his face.
The student body spread out across the grass to hear officials praise their efforts.
"You have been way ahead, and we recognize your leadership in thinking, acting and promoting green," said County Executive James T. Smith Jr. "You have told me that you want to save the Earth, and that's what you are doing."
The children created recyclable art by applying glue to multi-hued bottle caps and using them to fill in the large outline of a fish. They decorated brown paper grocery bags with colorful pictures and Earth-friendly messages. Grace Cerf, a second-grader, placed a recycling logo inside a large heart and wrote, "like the earth like you like yourself." Micah Miller, a kindergartener, went for simplicity with "This is the best earth ever." The bags will be returned to Giant groceries for use by its customers.
"I wish we could clone this school because they know Earth Day is every day," said Paolillo. "They are making our planet a better planet, and they are making sure the message spreads."