North Point re­ceives se­cond NOAA ban­ner

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @JamieACIndyNews

Stu­dents at North Point High School were rec­og­nized Wed­nes­day for their ef­forts to pro­tect the marine en­vi­ron­ment with a ban­ner from the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion, or NOAA, through its Ocean Guardians pro­gram.

To be­come an Ocean Guardian School, a school must make a com­mit- ment to the pro­tec­tion and con­ser­va­tion of its lo­cal wa­ter­sheds, the ocean and spe­cial ocean ar­eas, such as na­tional marine sanc­tu­ar­ies. The school must pro­pose and im­ple­ment hands-on schooland com­mu­nity-based con­ser­va­tion projects, ac­cord­ing to the Ocean Guardian School web­site.

The Ocean Guardians pro­gram is ad­min­is­tered through NOAA’s Of­fice of Na­tional Marine Sanc- tu­ar­ies.

“The Ocean Guardian School pro­gram pro­vides schools the op­por­tu­nity to make a change in the envi- ron­ment, through hand­son stew­ard­ship projects that help to pro­tect our ocean and wa­ter­sheds. These changes have re­sulted in large im­pacts on our en­vi­ron­ment, and that is what North Point and the 78 other Ocean Guardian Schools have done,” said Se­aberry Na- chbar, re­gional ed­u­ca­tion co­or­di­na­tor for NOAA’s Of­fice of Na­tional Marine Sanc­tu­ar­ies.

The ban­ner is the sec- ond one for North Point, which be­came Mary- land’s first Ocean Guardian School last year. J.C. Parks Ele­men­tary School be­came the se­cond Ocean Guardian School in the state last week with the award­ing of its first ban­ner.

Schools may ap­ply yearly to re­ceive up to five ban- ners by doc­u­ment­ing and re­port­ing their ef­forts to pro­tect ocean en­v­i­ron- ments and wa­ter­sheds, and only one school — in Cal­i­for­nia — has re­ceived its fifth ban­ner, said Loli- ta Kior­pes, North Point’s en­vi­ron­men­tal sciences teacher.

“There’s only one school that has got­ten all five, and that’s on the West Coast, so we’re go­ing to be the first school to get all five on the East Coast,” Kior­pes said.

North Point and its NOAA Ocean Guardians group has taken part in com­mu­nity out­reach and trash clean-up for Mal- lows Bay, which has been nom­i­nated to be­come a NOAA Na­tional Marine Sanc­tu­ary; tree plant­ings on cam­pus and at Port To­bacco River Park; trash clean-up at Mat­ta­woman Creek; and baby trout and horse­shoe crab fos­ter and re­lease pro­grams, among other projects.

Sa­muel Or­lando of NOAA’s Of­fice of Na­tion- al Marine Sanc­tu­ar­ies told stu­dents they have the power to af­fect real change and pro­tect the lo­cal wa­ter­shed.

“Of all the things that I do here, this is with­out a doubt the most in­spir­ing, the most re­ward­ing: be­ing among youth who have taken it upon them­selves to do things for the com­mon good, to in­spire and to do things to bet­ter oth­ers’ lives, and to be stew­ards of spe­cial places like the ones here in Charles County,” Or­lando said.

Ce­leste Brown, a se­nior at North Point, is in her se­cond year par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Ocean Guardians pro­gram.

“Be­ing a mem­ber of NOAA has been a great ex­pe­ri­ence,” Brown said. “We have had the honor of be­ing in na­ture and tak­ing a glimpse at our sur­round­ings.”

Ed­ward Park, a 2016 grad­u­ate of North Point, also spoke about his ex­pe­ri­ences in the Ocean Guardians pro­gram.

“Hon­estly, I wish I was a year younger, so I could do NOAA one more year,” Park said. “It was re­ally in­for­ma­tional, but it was re­ally fun too. I got to learn about a few ecosys­tems and what kinds of or­gan­isms live there, and I think it is a truly ben­e­fi­cial or­ga­ni­za­tion for the en­vi­ron­ment, and for the world in gen­eral.”

School board mem­ber Bar­bara Palko said hear­ing stu­dents speak made her feel hope­ful for the fu­ture.

“With this num­ber of stu­dents who are in­ter­ested in the en­vi­ron­ment, I feel like our Earth is in good hands, with this pro­gram, and these stu­dents,” Palko said.

STAFF PHOTO BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

North Point High School stu­dents Ce­leste Brown and Ross Bon­a­gruro un­furl North Point’s se­cond NOAA Ocean Guardians ban­ner.

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