UPDATE: Check out the photo gallery here.
Burgess-Peterson Academy served as the host school Wednesday to help launch a city-wide effort, Be Water Wise Atlanta, in a partnership with the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) and which helps celebrate National Environmental Education Week. Burgess-Peterson is one of 11 Atlanta Public Schools and 14 metro Atlanta schools to help raise consciousness about water usage and conservation.
Be Water Wise Atlanta is a collaborative public-private partnership which involves K-12 students in a comprehensive water conservation exercise, empowering students to improve conservation in their schools, homes and the community and to explore the connections between water and energy use. Burgess-Peterson was chosen as the host site thanks to its committed staff and its success in establishing and maintaining its schoolyard garden and integrating it into the curriculum, according to Jessica Culverhouse, program manager of National Environmental Education Week. Burgess-Peterson’s point people have been Principal Robin Robbins, physical education instructor Betty Jackson and custodian Kelvin Hester. Students will learn how to measure water usage, among other activities, but also will be able to apply several of these activities to their math, science and language arts curriculum.
“This project is another layer we’ve added on top of the other academic programs that provide real-life application of the things we study into the real world,” said Principal Robbins, noting that this is one of APS’ 26 Best Teaching Practices. “And that’s where we see our students achieve academically.”
Several officials were present at the event, including Diane Wood, NEEF president; Dr. Stan Meiburg, deputy regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 (Southeast); Felicia McDade, K-12 regional education manager, Johnson Controls; Natalyn Mosby Archibong, member, Atlanta City Council; Robert Hunter, commissioner, Atlanta Department of Watershed Management; Dottie Whitlow, executive director, APS Math & Science Department; and Dr. Robin Hall, executive director, SRT-3.
“Over the past several years, improving water conservation has become increasingly critical for many U.S. cities,” Culverhouse said. “Widespread drought, conflicts over water rights and other water-related issues have gained media attention and a place on the agendas of public officials across the country. Atlanta in particular faces unique challenges in water management. Be Water Wise aims to engage students from urban schools in learning about water conservation and developing solutions.”
Other participating Atlanta Public Schools: E. Rivers Elementary, Towns Elementary, Bunche Middle, B.E.S.T. Academy, Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Inman Middle, Kennedy Middle, Carver School of Health Sciences & Research, Douglass High and Therrell High. The other three schools: Randolph Elementary School (Fulton County), Dunwoody Elementary School (DeKalb County) and South Paulding High School (Paulding County).
“We want to thank our students for being a part of this very important initiative, and we look forward to showcasing the work you do,” said Whitlow, who was presented by Robert Hunter with a Phoenix Award from the mayor’s office APS’ efforts in water preservation. Principal Robbins accepted a proclamation by Archibong and the Atlanta City Council for Be Water Wise Atlanta Week.
Following the launch event, Burgess-Peterson’s Be Water Wise Ambassadors and Student Wellness Ambassadors took the officials through some of their initial water-measurement activities as well as a tour of the school’s community and edible gardens in the courtyard. Fifth-grader Kendall Hampton, who’d earlier nailed a trivia question asked by Hunter about water consumption, said he loved how this kind of curriculum sparks his imagination. Hampton’s main strength is social studies, he says, but now he’s improved his math and science skills. “This is more hands-on, and I get to look at what I’m learning,” said Hampton. “It’s like dissecting a frog, instead of reading about it in a book.”
The schools will spend the next month making assessments on water and energy conservation and participate in educational activities and then make a presentation at City Hall before forwarding the reports to NEEF about what they plan to do on on their campuses. Funds for the projects will be provided in the fall for the school year.
Be Water Wise Atlanta partners include Johnson Controls, the United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 4, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management, the City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability, the Georgia Aquarium, and the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC) at Georgia Tech. Be Water Wise Atlanta is made possible by contributions from Johnson Controls, Inc. and the Walmart Foundation.
For more, watch Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed‘s video on the NEEF Website here.