Martinsville school recognized as Virginia Naturally School

Elementary students are working to create solutions to environmental problems

Albert Harris Elementary School is recognized as a Virginia Naturally School. (Courtesy of: Martinsville City Public Schools) (WSLS)

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – One Martinsville elementary school is being recognized for its efforts in environmental awareness.

Albert Harris Elementary School was named a Virginia Naturally School by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.

According to VDWR, “Virginia Naturally Schools is the official environmental education school recognition program of the Commonwealth.”

Albert Harris Elementary worked with the Dan River Basin Association to help students learn about their impact on the environment. Students are encouraged to create solutions to environmental issues at their school.

One way they’ve practiced environmental awareness is by planting a vegetable garden to reduce erosion. Students also utilize rain barrel systems to water the vegetable garden while keeping water out of the storm drains.

Second graders at Albert Harris created and now maintain a monarch butterfly waystation, to benefit both butterflies and pollinators in the community.

“As part of the VDOE’s first Taking Kids Outside Cohort, I am excited to share what we are doing at Albert Harris with other teachers around the state,” AHES STEM teacher Laurie Witt told the MCPS School Board. “Our students are practicing environmental stewardship which benefits our world today and also for years to come.”

This isn’t the first recognition that Albert Harris has received for their environmental work. Student Aria Lewis won a contest for painting a storm drain near the Uptown Farmers’ Market for storm drain pollution education.

“I am so very proud that Albert Harris Elementary School received this recognition,” said AHES Principal Renee Brown. “Our school is committed to outdoor education in correlation with Virginia’s Standards of Learning. We are thankful to Ms. Witt for spearheading this project. Our students appreciate lessons learned while utilizing our outdoor classroom.”

About the Author:

Lauren Helkowski joined WSLS 10’s digital team in August 2022, but has held a passion for storytelling long before.