Life in a Green School
Connecticut students restock rivers, compost lunches, and save the world
Scholastic Kid Reporter Katherine Forbes with Marjorie Drucker, Barnard’s Magnet Resource teacher, in a school greenhouse. (Photo: Courtesy Katherine Forbes)
Do you raise salmon in your classroom at school? Do you ever have class while floating down a river in a canoe? Do you ever throw your school lunch leftovers into a compost bin when you are finished?
That’s all part of a normal school day at Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School in New Haven, Connecticut. Known as a “green” school, Barnard attracts preschool to sixth-grade students from all over the region who are interested in environmental studies.
"We do Earth Day all year long,” said Marjorie Drucker, Barnard’s Magnet Resource teacher. With the school’s special curriculum, its 325 students study the environment all day long.
Being green means that “everything in the building is designed with the environment in mind,” Drucker told Scholastic News. For example, the lights go off when people leave the room, and special windows provide “passive light,” cutting down on the need for electric lighting. When a window is open, the air- conditioning automatically turns off.
More Than Conservation
Conserving energy is not all that students do to help the environment. While learning about the dying salmon population in the Connecticut rivers, students also do something to help out—they raise more salmon.
In the classrooms there are fish tanks containing salmon eggs. The eggs are kept in water at 2 degrees Celsius. After the eggs hatch, students observe the baby salmon through all the stages of development, then release the adult salmon into Connecticut rivers.
Composting is another part of taking care of the environment at Barnard. Students dispose of their lunches by throwing the remaining food into a composting bin in a greenhouse. The resulting compost, or fertile soil, is used to help grow plants.
At Barnard, almost everything has to do with the environment. Students sing songs about the environment; their artwork has to do with the environment; even their math classes are focused on preserving the environment.
“When I grow up I want to be a scientist, because I want to study all different kinds of animals and see how they live,” said 10-year-old Crystal.
Another student, Troi, 11, has similar ambitions.
“When I grow up I want to be a researcher, like a person who discovers different kinds of plants and animals, sort of like that,” Troi said.
Barnard offers opportunities students wouldn’t get in a regular school. The school’s goal is to teach kids to be good environmental role models. They also learn a different way to live life. To attend the school, students have to apply and express their interest in preserving the environment.
“Students come here because they care about the environment,” said Drucker.
Katherine Forbes is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.