The Potomac Highlands Watershed School 

PHWS Projects 2014

Charlestown Middle School, WV

Charlestown Middle School Cistern, Trees and Shrubs

May 2014

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The Science Club at CTMS participated in a one hour educational session and an afternoon planting on their school ground.

Students were introduced to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and the two main forms of non-point source pollution, nutrients and sediment, affecting its health. Students talked about the impacts of stormwater around their campus. Students determined that something needed to be done about the amount of runoff that would gather around the entrance to the school during a rain storm.  It was determined that a 250 gallon cistern would be attached to one of the downspouts causing the majority of the stormwater to be dumped into the area. The water will be captured and stored for use in watering existing plants around the school grounds. Plans were drawn up for the fall to install a rain garden in the area to help the remaining stormwater be captured and returned to the groundwater.

Science Club teacher, Stephanie Diamond, led past Science Club members in the building and installation of Bluebird boxes near the wooded edge of the school grounds. Students wanted to increase the habitat available for these birds. It was determined that four shrubs would fit in the space available. Students were given a list of trees and shrubs that are ideal nesting and food habitat for Bluebirds. Out of the options given students determined they would plant the follow: Highbush Blueberry shrub, Common Elderberry, Flowering Dogwood, and an Arrowwood Viburnum. At the end of the educational hour students were excited to add these features to their campus in the following weeks.

The cistern installation took place prior to the planting day. A few Club students painted an image on the cistern during planting day. Students chose the slogan “CTMS Saves Water” to help inform other students of the purpose of the new cistern. The remaining Science Club members planted the four shrubs in the bird box area. In addition to planting, mulching, and staking the new shrubs students planted native flowers and seeds around the same area to further increase habitat.

It was a positive experience for all students and staff. The transformation was instant and will continue to flourish in the coming years.