Every year, K–12 schools across the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia region engage in a friendly sustainability competition through the Connect the Dots Green Schools Challenge. Throughout the academic year, teams of students, teachers and community members are paired with volunteer green building expert mentors to develop and implement low-cost, high-impact sustainability projects connected to their school buildings. This competition prioritizes hands-on learning and real-life examples to expose students to concepts of energy and water efficiency, waste reduction, indoor air quality and environmental stewardship.
At the USGBC Virginia Leadership Awards in Richmond on May 2, the efforts of four Virginia schools were recognized as award winners for going above and beyond in this year’s competition.
2018–2019 Connect the Dots Winners
Providence Middle School—Honor Award
At Providence Middle in Richmond, over 300 students participated in "Help Us Dig It,"engaging the community to create and make use of a new outdoor learning lab. The school teamed up with the Virginia Cooperative Extension to build a 50 x 70-foot school garden, which will be incorporated into the school’s science curriculum and extracurricular activities. As part of the garden’s construction, students rotated through education and work groups to build and plant beds and sharpen their knowledge on pollination.
First Colonial High School—Creativity Award
To address waste issues at their Virginia Beach school, students at First Colonial High conducted a classroom waste audit to gauge students’ waste habits. In partnership with local nonprofit Lynnhaven River NOW, waste from the audit was sorted to identify items that could be reduced, recycled or reused as fashion. Students transformed reuseable products into clothing that was then displayed at Lynnhaven River NOW’s annual “Trashion Show,” raising awareness of the importance of proper waste management in the broader community.
First Colonial High School students share recycled fashions.
Binford Middle School—Environmental Education Award
Binford Middle School in Richmond built off a former Connect the Dots project by expanding a previously constructed outdoor learning space to include an edible garden and a rain garden. Throughout the building process, the school prioritized the use of existing resources to help divert waste. An existing rain barrel was tied the roof’s gutter system to provide both a water source for the new garden and a learning opportunity about stormwater management.
Girls For A Change—Environmental Conservation Award
Girls For A Change is a nonprofit that empowers young women of color to realize their bright futures through engagement in projects that promote social change and development. Their Connect the Dots project, "Girls Have ENERGY,"& used an energy assessment to identify areas in their building that could use improvement. With the support of their mentors, the girls were able to implement some low-cost energy saving strategies, resulting in both energy reduction and cost savings for the school.
USGBC Virginia is also proud to recognize all of this year’s participating project teams across the state. We’re thankful for the commitment these schools show to green building and sustainability, and for the strong environmental champions they are fostering in their students:
- J.B. Fisher Elementary School
- Miles Jones Elementary School
- Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts
Other winners of the challenge in Maryland and the D.C. region will be announced at the Midsummer Night's Green celebration in July.