Ocean Palms Elementary School was recently recognized as the Florida Department of Education’s 2019-2020 winner of the Family and Community Involvement Award in the elementary category for Region II. This is the highest award presented by the State Department of Education.
The award was created to recognize innovation, school-level family and community involvement, and partnerships — all of which describe the school’s Be the Change initiative, which prompted the award.
Be the Change is a program that brings environmental awareness to the school alongside partnerships with Beaches Go Green and Ponte Vedra High School. Beaches Go Green especially brings attention to the impact of single-use plastic waste and its effect on the environment.
Ponte Vedra High School students provided STEM education as well as presentations on how to educate the community on the need to reduce single-use plastics to the fifth-grade students. Then, with that knowledge, the fifth-grade students led the schoolwide Be the Change project, which focused on refusing, reducing, reusing and recycling. This culminated in the construction of an 8-foot light-up otter installation at the 2019 Deck the Chairs event. The installation was composed of egg cartons, leftover construction materials and hurricane sandbags. Additionally, the school’s ambassador students incorporated recycled/repurposed materials in their many annual service projects.