DeKalb to Earth: Have we got a school for you!

2 02 2009


Kristina Torres | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

It will be Georgia’s premier “green” school —- one of the first public schools in the state with a national certification for environmental construction and perhaps the only one with an environmentally themed curriculum.

DeKalb County’s Arabia Mountain High School opens Aug. 10, but officials are already working to get the sparkling new campus ready —- installation crews are putting on the final touches and a teachers job fair and parents’ meetings are scheduled this week.

Here’s a look at the school.


The campus sits in southeastern DeKalb near the Arabia Mountain national heritage area, which comprises thousands of acres of protected green space and is one of 37 federally designated heritage areas nationwide. On campus, easy access to miles of trails in and around the forested area is just past the practice football field behind the school building —- where deer are often spotted checking out their new neighbor.


All subjects will be infused with the standardized EIC curriculum —- which stands for using the Environment as an Integrating Context for learning. Simply put, all teachers will use the environment as a backdrop for their lessons. The curriculum, developed jointly among 16 state education departments, can be seen at

The school also will incorporate small learning communities. Students will be divided among different programs, with students going to class within these programs for all four years. The concept has been around in various forms for many years but has regained favor as schools try to increase graduation rates and student performance.

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Georgia’s new water plan applauded, but it has its critics

21 01 2009

Many people are applauding the state’s new water conservation plan, now up for public comment, although some critics say it isn’t specific enough and is likely to suffer from lack of funding.

Water planning gained new urgency — and political legs — in the wake of a historic drought that has hit north Georgia hardest in the past several years.

A year ago, the state Legislature set up a framework for regional water planning. The water conservation plan is part of that framework, providing goals and best practices that can be incorporated into the regional plans. Eventually, the conservation plan states that it can be used to form rules to guide the state’s water permitting decisions.

The conservation plan includes guidance for seven major sectors of water users:

  • Agriculture
  • Electricity generation
  • Industrial and commercial
  • Domestic (residential) and nonindustrial
  • Landscaping
  • Golf courses
  • State agencies

These sectors are encouraged to choose the practices most appropriate for their situation. The plan suggests creating incentives for conservation but doesn’t pinpoint funding. Those two points are the rub for the most vocal conservation advocates. “Our concern is that this plan is not aggressive enough in terms of having real accountability,” said April Ingle, director of the Georgia River Network. “We’re also concerned about whether there is a real commitment to this on the part of the state, because there is no funding mechanism.”

Shana Uvarde, water program manager for the Georgia Conservancy, said her organization supports the plan, but she voiced the same concerns as Ingle. She also questioned whether all sectors are treated equally in the plan when it comes to their water conservation goals.

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Atlantans recycle old electronics for free

22 11 2008

Cedric Brown finally parted with a trusted friend Saturday — his first computer.

It was an IBM XT, with two floppy drives, and he ran Lotus 1-2-3 on it way back in 1985, managing spreadsheets for a lighting company.  Saturday afternoon, Brown handed the archaic device over to a worker in the Green Lot at Turner Field, who tossed it onto a stack of PCs where it was shrink-wrapped and loaded into a semi-trailer.

After his machine ceased functioning, Brown said, it gathered dust in the basement as a reminder of his computing beginnings. “I just couldn’t being myself to part with this particular computer until now.”

Dozens of trailers stood by as men driving forklifts loaded them up with pallets of computer monitors, printers, console televisions and even a rather attractive “Fireball” pinball machine.

Organized by Sony and Waste Management, the one-day electronics recycling program retrieved about 230,000 pounds of abandoned gizmos that would have otherwise been bound for the garbage heap.

Electronics frequently harbor toxic metals and other pollutants that can threaten waterways and human health for years. TV monitors can contain up to eight pounds of lead, and many batteries include cadmium, said Chad Miller, of Houston-based Waste Management.

While consumers usually have to pay a fee to dispose of such items, Sony covered the cost of Saturday’s recycling, all of which will be re-processed by Marietta recycler MOLAM International Inc.

At that facility, event organizers said, the equipment will be broken into its component parts, and reused or disposed of with strict adherence to environmental protection.

The goal of Saturday’s collection was to emphasize responsible electronics recycling.

“We hope by holding events like this, that the message gets out,” Robert Benavent, an environmental engineer with Sony Electronics, said as he watched a line of cars and pickup trucks snake through the collection site.

Read on here.