Award-winning Floral Street School continues to ‘go green’
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Equipped with an outdoor classroom, Floral Street Elementary School has focused on environmental education since it opened in 1997. Grants were awarded to create raised gardens, explore the adjacent wetlands and develop a nature trail in the woods behind the school. Kara Frankian, a first- and second-grade teacher, has been spearheading the development of the trail from the start.
On May 13, Frankian and the school were presented an Award for Excellence by Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. during a ceremony at the Massachusetts State House.
“It’s wonderful to put the environment in the spotlight as much as possible,” Frankian said.
The environment was given ample attention May 24 at the seventh annual “Floral Goes Green.” The foyer, hallways and gym were transformed into learning nooks with interactive stations for students in grades one through four. A wall was covered with students’ posters proclaiming what they’ve learned from the nature trail. New this year, students could invite family members to join them for the trail walk.
“Our kids are on the trail once a week,” Frankian said. “They start as first-graders to understand that changes in heat and light are what drives everything. Every week, they document changes they see on the trail with cameras and notebooks.”
In the media center, representatives from Shrewsbury Electric and Cable Operations (SELCO) helped third-graders produce public service announcements promoting energy and water conservation. Jackie Pratt, the SELCO marketing and customer care manager, is glad they can provide exposure for the students’ message.
“The students are trying to get the word out about conservation, so this is a good way for them to do that,” she said. “We’ll run the announcements on our local ad-insertion channels on cable.”
The announcements will be broadcast on several channels including ABC Family, MTV and Nickelodeon. A schedule of airings will appear in SELCO’s June newsletter.
Fourth-graders met in the cafeteria, where children’s author Loree Burns, of West Boylston, shared the experience of researching her book “Citizen Scientists.” In the gym, experts from the Asian Longhorned Beetle Cooperative Eradication Program offered presentations. Outdoors, members of the Shrewsbury Garden Club taught students how to create a terrarium with recycled items.
Meanwhile, Missy Hollenback of Shrewsbury Recycles shared helpful tips.
“I want to help educate people about recycling, particularly children, who are probably the best educators of their parents,” she said. “Children understand and embrace recycling. They remind their parents when they’re busy and forget that you need to put the water bottle in the recycling bin, not throw it away.”
It was Hollenback who nominated Frankian and the school for the Award for Excellence for its environmental programs.
“I looked at other schools that had won this award and I realized that Floral has done a lot more,” Hollenback said.
Last school year, a solar panel was installed at the school’s outdoor classroom to teach students about renewable energy. The system was funded by Avidia Bank with support from Jim Oliva of Alteris Renewables, Inc. This school year, SELCO set up a weather station at the school.
“We’re heading in the direction of green-minded initiatives.” Frankian said. “We have an awesome recycling program run by David Poe, our school custodian. He does recycling and the kids help him.”
While the school has accomplished a lot with its environmental education programs, Frankian acknowledged there’s always room for improvement.
“We throw away hundreds of styrofoam trays every day because we can’t afford the health insurance money to pay the dishwasher, which isn’t very green,” she said. “My goal is to continue to push green energy as an important educational issue.”
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