Pennington Habitat Hero
The German American School of Portland (GSP) is a Pre-K through 5th-grade elementary school dedicated to enriching the lives of more than 160 students, their parents, and teachers through multi-cultural interactions. Located in the heart of Beaverton, Oregon less than a mile from the Beaverton Wetlands and the Tualatin Hills Nature Park. The students in the school represent more than 20 nationalities and many students are able to speak more than just English and German. GSP is a participating Green School with the Portland Metro Department, focusing efforts on reducing our waste, reusing materials, and recycling. The environment is very important to many of the staff, students, and parents. GSP has its own organic fruit, vegetable and herb garden, which the entire community works together on the care and maintenance of the plants.
In the After-School Program, students have focused their education on local habitats and ecosystems, local birds, and learning about the ways students can make a positive impact on the environment. Over the last couple of years, the After-School Program has studied the birds, finding out that the schoolyard birds prefer to eat sunflower seed and spend most of their time in the tops of the neighboring oak trees. During these studies, students created a schoolyard bird guide specific to the birds seen in and around our playground. The students also created multiple environmental education boxes; one for birds, one for habitats, and one for nature exploration.
Every year the school hosts a Playground Cleanup around Earth Day, which focuses on getting the entire school community together to bring new life to the playground. During this time staff get gardens ready for the spring season, add sand to the sandboxes, and usually have a project focus. Last year a group of parents got together and built the school a couple of large and beautiful planter boxes. This year the Playground Cleanup will focus on transforming the new planter boxes into a bird and insect garden and will purchase native plants that attract birds, bees, butterflies, and other insects. Additionally, feeders, bird houses, and a carpenter bee starter house will be made out of recycled wood to place around the playground.
The German American School of Portland is also focusing its efforts to add outdoor classroom elements to the playground. They hope to add a natural wood building area so students can build forts or teepees. The GSP community strives to get students and their families outside enjoying the opportunities nature presents on a daily basis.