Alexandria, VA – Hollin Meadows Elementary School throws one impressive Earth Day Celebration but even more importantly, students, teachers and families there celebrate the environment every day with gardens tended by the students with help from the parents and the community and ongoing environmental education programs aimed at creating “a personal connection with the earth and a commitment to the well-being of all life.”
Gardens include the Learning Production Garden, Sensory Garden, and Outdoor Classroom.
The school has had a thriving Outdoor Education Program since 2005. It now offers its students over 20,000 square feet of courtyard garden space, which serves to reinforce the core curriculum through experiential and project-based learning modules.
Michelle Obama visited Hollin Meadows’ gardens when she was the First Lady, kneeling on the ground with students and helping plant a vegetable or two. The school’s Learning Production Garden features 21 raised garden beds to grow produce for the school’s cafeteria.
In addition, HMES will soon install a 24’ x 30’ greenhouse, the bare outlines of which were the basis of lively discussion on Earth Day as to what should be grown there. The greenhouse will increase STEM opportunities and allow year-round education and expanded production capacity.
HMES is a Title I school situated in a community that is rich in history, diversity, and talent. With 55% of its K-6th grade students qualifying as economically disadvantaged, HMES actively aims to close the achievement gap for a historically underserved population.