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A project to “bee” proud of — Teacher wins WUSA EcoChallenge for school

It’s not easy to keep a secret or a surprise in a middle school, but recently at Matthew Henson Middle School, the administrators pulled it off.

A few days before the end of the school year, Channel 9 evening news anchor Lesli Foster, and Michelle Musgrove, a representative of Washington Gas, visited the school to surprise computer teacher Derrick Blackwell during eighth-grade lunch.

Earlier in the school year, Blackwell submitted an environmental project on behalf of the school and his students for the WUSA9’s #EnvironmentMatters Eco Challenge. Teachers in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area submitted project proposals outlining how it will benefit the environment, how students will be involved and how they will learn using resources from the Smithsonian Science Education Center, which partners with WUSA9 for the challenge.

Washington Gas, another sponsor, donates $5,000 to each of the four winning schools to get the projects off the ground.

Blackwell’s project started out to attract more bees and other pollinators to areas of the school grounds before blossoming into a one incorporating different subject areas like art and science.

“We are going to build planter boxes to increase the bee and pollinator population around the school,” Blackwell told Foster during her visit to the school.  “Computer science students will help staff members build the boxes, art students will paint the boxes,” he said.

As the planet is in a climate crisis it is important to protect pollinators such as bees, butterflies, moths and beetles. According to the USDA, not only can pollinator habitats beautify spaces, but they also increase biodiversity, biologically control “pest” insects and provide community engagement and learning opportunities.

“It sounds like a project that all of you can be a part of,” Foster said.  “And in order to do a project like this you need money.”  Blackwell said the $5,000 will go toward purchasing supplies for the planter boxes and maintaining the project. 

The day before Foster visited Henson, WUSA anchor Chick Hernandez visited Plum Point Elementary School in Calvert County to recognize two students for winning the EcoChallenge.

The WUSA9 segment on Henson is expected to run on the 6 p.m. broadcast June 18 and will be featured online at                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,765 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 38 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

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