Saturday, November 22, 2014

We have some exciting news to report about our CHES courtyards!

The Greater Virginia Green Building Council recently awarded Clover Hill Elementary a Curriculum Award in their “Connect the Dots for Green Schools Challenge” for our renovation efforts in the courtyards!

Also, James River Grounds Management has taken on the large courtyard as a community service project; they sent in a work crew on November 18th and will return in the spring to complete the project. They put down new weed control fabric, new gravel, and new sand in our Chesapeake Bayscape; they also fixed the deck, pruned the crepe myrtle, removed some dead plants, and added some bench seating. Students from the Environmental Committee helped place shells and driftwood to our bayscape; they will also help with some planting in the spring.

Thank you to GVGBC and James River Grounds Management!!! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Small Courtyard Update

Thanks to this gorgeous fall weather, the flowers in the small courtyard are flourishing, and our baby frogs are lovin' it!  Go check them out when you get a chance.


Large Courtyard Update

Three of our boat planters have been christened!  We have the Godspeed, the Discovery, and the Susan Constant, named after the three Jamestown boats.  Thank you Mrs. French for the fantastic job on the painting!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Green Apple Day of Service

The weekend of September 27-28 marked an international movement called the Green Apple Day of Service.  This initiative encourages community members to take action at a local school to help transform schools into sustainable, healthy, and efficient learning environments. 

CHES marked Green Apple Day by organizing a workday in the large courtyard, where volunteers have been working for the past couple of years to transform the neglected area into a native plant demonstration garden with ties to the school curriculum. 
Almost 30 PTA, parent, and student volunteers came out to weed, paint, repair, plant, and water.  Students included members of the 2014-2015 Environmental Cabinet.  The weather was perfect, and tons of great things were accomplished.  The pictures tell the whole story. 

The team gets to work!

Clearing and planting the Chesapeake Bayscape garden.

Weeding, labeling, and watering the boat planters.
Painting the rain barrels that capture water from the shed roof.

The children designed and painted all of the rain
barrel illustrations with complete artistic liberty.

Progress was made on the Bayscape area, which will
receive additional sand and plants.



 The whole team worked very hard.  Thank you to everyone who participated!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Department of Forestry Needs Your Help!

VDOF Tree Nurseries Seek Public ’s Help With Acorn & Seed Collection

Virginians can help preserve tree species by collecting acorns and seeds from 12 species and delivering them to the nearest office of the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). Acorns and seeds must be received by October 10.

“Generally, the best time to collect acorns is the last week in September through the first week of October,” said Josh McLaughlin, nursery forester. “Every bag of acorns and seed collected by citizens will help us keep Virginia beautiful.”

The species most needed are: Alleghany Chinkapin; Chinese Chestnut; Hazelnut; Black Oak; Chestnut Oak; Northern Red Oak; Pin Oak; Swamp Chestnut Oak; Swamp White Oak; White Oak; Willow Oak, and Black Walnut.

“Lawns or paved areas are ideal collection sites,” McLaughlin said. “A single tree located in these areas makes identifying the acorns easier.” He added that you should not collect from trees in the forest, since it can be difficult to identify acorns when many different species are nearby.
McLaughlin reminds anyone who is interested in collecting acorns or seed to: use paper bags (no plastic bags) to hold the acorns or seed; identify the tree species on the bag, and to not combine acorn or seed from different tree species in the same paper bag.

The Chesterfield region VDOF office is just south of Petersburg:

Virginia Department of Forestry
13209 Courthouse Road
Dinwiddie, Virginia 23841
Phone: 804.469.7343

See the press release at

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Shake the Hands That Feed You - Richmond Area Farm Tour

Check out this awesome opportunity to tour 14 farms in the Richmond area and help your kids make the farm to table connection.  The tour will take place September 20 and 21, and the cost is $25 (in advance) per carload.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Large Courtyard Gets Some "Helping Hands"

Only Thursday July 24th, 17 student and 7 adult volunteers spent some time getting our large courtyard ready for the new school year. The group overcame such obstacles as terrible traffic on I-95 and colossal thunder storms to help us stay on top of the weeds in the picnic table area used for lunch (by reservation) and as outdoor classroom space.  The volunteers worked hard and fast, and got so much accomplished in a short amount of time. 

Helping Hands is a mission opportunity for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in Methodist churches across Virginia.  175 students came from several churches around Virginia to participate.  It is hosted by Woodlake United Methodist Church.   It's a two-day program that takes students to 30 sites in the Richmond area to rake, paint, pull weeds, feed the hungry, clean streams, sort donated items at thrift stores and more.  Thank you Helping Hands and Woodlake UMC, we are grateful for your help!


Monday, July 7, 2014

Clothing to Cash Wrap-Up

I know, I know, it's summer now, and school is not on your mind.  BUT, we have receive the final June numbers for our Clothing to Cash program so here is a quick summary of how this program went, from March when we first set out the bins, until the end of June.  Guess how many pounds we collected during that time.  It's higher than you think!  We collected 3,404 pounds of clothing, shoes, linens, and towels during that time.  The school earns 10 cents per pound, AND we earned multiple bonuses for being one of the highest collectors in the Richmond area.  So, this program earned the school almost $500 just for those few months.  Those unwanted items will be recycled, and we have some super clean closets!  It's a win-win-win.  Since it's been so successful, we've decided to keep the bin year-round.  So, take an hour this summer and clean out a closet with your children, and bring the unwanted items up to our school's bin.  If you don't get around to it, don't worry, the bin will be there whenever you do!  Thank you so much for your support. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Small Courtyard Beautification

Tons of work has been done in the small courtyard over the past month.  A special thanks to Joelle Hawkins and Denise Dunn for everything they have done to make this space so special, peaceful, and chock full of educational opportunities! 

 The new work included:
-Five raised beds with flowers and vegetables planted
-Each bed has a theme, such as rainbow garden, plants with animal names, and sensory learning
-Sod planted and new student and teacher benches installed for the class learning area
-Weather station refurbished
-Encroaching weeds and vines trimmed back
-A large rock reading/sitting circle encompasses the dogwood tree
-Bird houses donated from the girls scouts
-Fish pond cleared and feeding schedule established (thank you to Mrs. Shoop's class)
-The fennel (which is a host for butterflies) had 2 caterpillars "nesting".

 A calendar has been posted at the entrance to the small courtyard for teachers to sign up for a specific time for their classes to use it.  The second graders have already found it to be the perfect place to release the butterflies they have been observing in their classrooms!
Students that use the small courtyard should not step in any of the raised beds or inside of the rocks that border the pond.  Also, please do not throw anything (rocks, mulch, leaves) into the pond.  Thank you for helping keep our small courtyard nice.  We are so proud of both of our newly refurbished courtyards!  

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Large Courtyard Volunteer Day

We capped off Earth week with a FANTASTIC volunteer day in our large courtyard on Sunday, April 27th.  Our student Environmental Cabinet and their teacher leader Lynn Johnson, along with other student and parent volunteers, came out to spend the morning weeding and planting as we continue to rehabilitate and beautify our large courtyard.  Gorgeous weather, donuts, and hot chocolate were enjoyed by all.  Thanks to Dunkin' Donuts on Hull Street for their donation of two dozen donuts.

Supplies including garden soil, hoses, and fittings were donated by Lowe's at Parham and Brook Roads with the assistance of CHES parent Mark Bowers.  Thank you Lowes!

Under the guidance of Master Gardener, CHES parent, and Woodlake Environmental Committee liaison Natalie Perry, bags and bags of weeds were cleared, and dozens of native plants were planted in beds and in the salvaged boat planters that were set in place last Fall.  The ultimate vision is a learning courtyard that demonstrates native and specifically Jamestown plantings. 

Our efforts were entered into a contest called "Get Caught in a Beautiful Act" sponsored by Keep Virginia Beautiful.  You can see other similar efforts across the state showcased on their website.

There is more to do--our sign post needs to be finished, our rain barrels need to be installed, and our boats need to be labeled, but we got a lot done.  A huge "thank you" goes out to Mrs. Perry, Mrs. Johnson, and the student Environmental Cabinet, as well as all of the volunteers that came out to work!  

Environmental Cabinet with Mrs. Johnson
Mrs. Perry talking about the importance of native plants.