Since its founding, The Branch School has held respect and love for nature as a core value. In its early days, when the school was very small, this manifested itself in some unusual pets, from Tony the pony to Henrietta the chicken. Students dug their own small pond, and spent happy hours watching the myriad creatures who were attracted to it. As the school grew, class pets became more conventional and a bigger pond moved behind a fence, while the Outdoor Classroom program invited the children to explore and nurture nature in a variety of ways, including vegetable gardens and fruit trees, birdwatching, native habitats, and composting. Weekly classes in the lower grades and an elective in the West Wing give all students the opportunity to learn to respect, understand, and love our fascinating coastal prairie ecosystem.
Our campus has been developed with our ecosystem in mind. All trees and shrubs planted as part of building projects are natives that provide shelter and food for native species. Our original campus includes a pond/bog system, wildflower meadows, a pocket prairie, and 24 nestboxes occupied by at least 4 species of songbirds. Building-code-mandated water retention facilities include permeable parking and drain systems that encourage water to soak in rather than run off.
Our school also manages its affairs with an eye on recycling. Each classroom practices it. A compost bin on the playground encourages children to discard unwanted fruit and vegetables there rather than in the garbage bin. Paper, metal and plastic are collected and recycled at a local center. As we move forward with new middle school facilities, we expect to build to a LEED standard and to develop our new section of campus with similar regard to our environmental values.