A few days before the official announcement was made, Otte Blair Middle School Principal Chris Stogdill received an email. It contained news he couldn't wait to tell science teacher Scott Flynn.
“I think we got it,” he said.
Last week, OBMS was named a Green Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. The award was for its environmental protection efforts. Only 27 schools, three early learning centers, five districts and five postsecondary institutions across the country received such honors.
OBMS partnered with the Washington County Recycling Association to place a recycling bin on school property in which sixth grade students collected materials from all classrooms.
Students also participated in the Trex Challenge for recycling of plastic bags. The school finished first in the state for middle schools.
In August 2019, OBMS began a composting program run by students, using more than 1,700 pounds of food scraps over the course of the year. In addition to addressing the school's environmental imprint, the program was also developed out of the desire to add more exploratory classes and give students more hands-on opportunities.
The effort took more than the work of Stogdill and Flynn. The Washington County Recycling Center donated pallets to create the compost pile bins. Local businesses and the City of Blair also donated supplies.
Others at the school and in the district have also made efforts to be environmentally sustainable. The district has recycled paper and cardboard, participated in an incentive rebate program for energy-efficient LED lighting, planted drought-resistant plants and trees, and decommissioned old school buses to be replaced with more efficient buses.
This award is something that not only the students and staff of OBMS, but the entire community can be proud of. With the efforts of all those involved, this honor doesn't happen.
Congratulations to OBMS students, staff, Supt. Randy Gilson and the Board of Education who were committed to providing unique learning opportunities for students and doing their part to protect the environment.