Manchester Valley High School is one of only two schools in Maryland to receive the 2018 Green Ribbon Schools Award from the U.S. Department of Education.
The federal Green Ribbon program recognizes schools that are demonstrating progress in three Pillars: 1) reducing environmental impact and costs, including waste, water, energy use and alternative transportation; 2) improving the health and wellness of students and staff; and 3) providing effective environmental and sustainability education. Schools were evaluated by a committee comprised of staff from state and national government agencies, state and regional environmental organizations, and private businesses.
Manchester Valley High School has come together to create an exemplar model for reduction in environmental impact and cost. In addition to solar light hallways, geothermal water and air heating and cooling systems, the school has implemented many other practices to improve the environment. For example, students have generated “turn off the lights” mini-posters around light switches, and “Watt Free Wednesdays” encourage staff to turn off the lights during school hours. Solid waste has been reduced by more than 50% through the use of digital curricula, recycling, and school composting programs, and science and agriculture programs incorporate hydroponics to reuse water.
The school has received grant funding from organizations including Carroll County Outdoor School, Northrup Grumman, Monsanto, and the Chesapeake Bay Trust and has collaborated with environmental leaders to bring in speakers and consultants for impact and cost reductions, mentoring programs, and career paths such as energy efficient technologies, bat habitat restoration, and agriculture innovations. The school’s latest reduction in energy cost ideas grant funding was written by a Science Research and AP Biology student for the BGE Bright Ideas program.
Manchester Valley High School is a school “on the move.” Students and staff participate in many activities such as the Relay for Life, supporting Special Olympics athletes, and taking the Polar Bear Plunge. A recent partnership with LifeBridge Health and the American Heart Association in donating CPR teaching aids and instructing students on the use of AEDs allows health students to learn how to save lives. Manchester Valley was the first high school in the county to hold a school-side symposium in collaboration with the State’s Attorney’s Office to inform students and the public on the scope and severity of the opioid epidemic.
Environmental literacy is integrated across curricula at Manchester Valley High School. Students play an active role in collecting real-time data on the school environment and learn civic skills through speaking engagement opportunities. The school has a wooded outdoor classroom that is maintained by students. There is an outdoor café-style breakfast and lunch area that is also used for staff meetings and class activities.