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