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Hurley Elementary School recognized as Green School of Promise

SALISBURY — Hurley Elementary School was recognized as a North Carolina Green School of Promise. The school is the only public school in Rowan and surrounding counties to achieve the recognition.

According to Principal Ryan Disseler, the award followed a shift in motto and mindset this year to “allow for the greatest possible positive impact on our environment and community.”

In March, the school’s teacher-led design team took a trip to Asheville to gain knowledge about how to create the support system for a green initiative. The team visited a Green School of Excellence and planned how best to move forward at Hurley.

Staff and student “Green Teams” led the charge, Disseler said, working to lead conversations about sustainability practices, plan meetings and participate in “go-and-see visits” across the state. All the while, the teams have expanded, including anyone with the desire to assist in carrying out the vision of conservation.

Disseler credited the Hurley community as a key part in the changes to the school’s environment. Parents and community volunteers have participated in clean-up, garden planning days, science/STEM nights, a field day with a focus on community resources for students and parents, as well as Reading Night projects that focused on green initiatives. Parents attending these meetings with students received resources which enable them to support their child at home.

Grants and partnerships from businesses to fund projects and research have also helped the school’s shift toward “green” practices. These include materials for building, healthy snacks for students who arrive late to school, student clubs centered around fitness and partnerships for mentoring with the Center for the Environment at Catawba College.

The school was also awarded a solar grant from NC GreenPower, allowing it to have solar panels installed and for students to learn how solar energy is used and can provide the Earth with a cleaner environment.

Supervision and care of the Hurley campus has been managed in large part by students. They have organized Elmer’s Glue, marker and crayon recycling collection as well as many other recycling and clean-up efforts.

The Student Green Team, leadership clubs and STEM clubs have been integral parts of beginning strides toward conservation. The Student Green Team collaborates once each week to collect recycling and remind staff members of continued improvements. The team gives feedback on changes they would like to see on campus. The group also led an air quality examination and analysis.

Efforts for renewable energy and resources include recycling bins, Student Green Team collection of classroom recycling, water bottle refilling station, lights and blinds tag reminders, grade-level gardens, support for Hurricanes Florence and Michael, air quality work and more.

In June, teacher-led design team members will visit North Carolina State University to meet with members of its sustainability office and to develop an understanding of how teaching students in a green mindset can lead to a lifelong passion for environmental awareness and sustainable living.

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