Students and staff at Lanier Middle School show off their green flag award for sustainability.
"If we are a school that believes in best practices related to the environment, we should show that by what we do in the courtyard," says principal Scott Poole. "So we decided to tear it all out, replant it with indigenous species, so that it was more like a native forest would have been many years ago."
Now trees, bushes and flowers sprout from the courtyard, and a seasonal pond awaits the arrival of salamanders. Meanwhile, students have installed recycling bins, and removed light bulbs to reduce energy use.
"Schools are learning laboratories," says Laura Hickey, senior director of Eco-Schools USA at the National Wildlife Federation. "This is where students learn about life. And these are the next generation of environmental stewards."
The federation has given Lanier the international green flag award for its efforts to address waste, reduce energy consumption and improve school grounds.
"We're just kind of an ordinary school in Fairfax Count," says Carol Anderson, a student at the school. "Nobody really knows us, and now we’re part of something bigger."
And maybe, she says, Lanier's not so ordinary after all.