Haut Gap students take pride in Green and healthy living initiat - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Haut Gap students take pride in Green and healthy living initiatives

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Solar panels, composting, recycling, and wellness, The Advanced Studies Magnet Haut Gap Middle School on Johns Island is proud of it's green and healthy living initiatives. We're in Charleston county for our Cool School of the week.

From gardening, to composting, to solar panels, haut gap middle school makes sustainability a top priority. Principal Travis Benintendo says, "We want our students primarily to be academically successful enabling them to be global competitors in the 21st century, but there is also the other side of it we want our students to be stewards of the environment."

The school started it's vegetable garden last year. Students come in every other Saturday to work. Science teacher Katie Schmenk says, "We are preparing our beds currently right now for our spring planting which we will do next week where we will have peppers and tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and zucchini. The purpose of sustainability is to reinforce the skills that we use in the classroom and apply it to the kids every day life. So we're here working in the garden. This is a skill they can use throughout their lives whether they remain here in the community or if they decide to move elsewhere." When it's time to harvest, they have a community feast. Seventh grade student Davion Greene says, "It's great. It's feeding back to the community and helping them, grow vegetables and stuff." Also money raised from selling the crops goes towards preserving the historic Angel Oak, which is right across the street from Haut Gap.

Haut Gap promotes health and wellness for both staff and students. Through a partnership with Blackbird Produce and Sprouts, they provide faculty and staff with fresh produce on Fridays, and students have an opportunity to develop a taste for natural juices. Wellness committee chair Emily Fain

says, "It's our job as teachers and administrators to expose the kids to healthy choices during their school day." Eighth grade student Lauren Hogan

says, "A lot of my classmates also love it. It's a very big success I think. They can get the proper nutrients they need, and to give them an education about what they need to eat everyday."

Haut Gap has composting in the cafeteria, with the help of the Green Team. The school went from 51 bags to 11 bags of trash a week.

Communities in Schools student support specialist Kit Fox says, "It's so important for these kids to realize where their waste goes, the whole process and how by composting we can reduce the amount of material that goes in the landfill, so eventually when these kids are older and down the line for generations, they will have parks and green spaces." Eighth grade student Tyler Mack says, "I want to help the community, and clean every thing that people drop. We don't want our community to be bad with trash. I want our community to be safe and good."

Haut Gap says they are in the process of becoming the number one green school in Charleston county, and credit their many community and business partners for assisting in this goal, including Blackbaud, the Resort at Kiawah, Lowcountry Open Land Trust. They have the solar power project through a partnership with Santee Cooper and Berkeley Electric. They are also in the process of building an outdoor classroom.

Coming up Friday on News 2 Today, we will present the Haut Gap bulldogs with our Cool School award.

We want to hear about the good things going on at your school. Send an email to Octavia at omitchell@wcbd.com, maybe your school will be the next Cool School of the week.

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