New school in Horry County goes green

The playground at River Oaks Elementary includes recycled materials.

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WPDE) - River Oaks Elementary is a learning building in every sense of the word, and green is the overall theme. It's the first of its kind in Horry County and set to open to students next week.

"When they got ready to build this school, they wanted to be very thoughtful about the kind of school they built and forward thinking," explains Principal June Morehead. "I think what I've learned the most is the importance of doing the day-to-day things that we can all do, like saving your newspapers and recycling them, recycling those water bottles."

There's a solar canopy that generates electricity at the entrance of the building, as well as a rain and compost garden. Acoustic panels in the hallway also double as bulletin boards. In the gym and cafeteria, the panels are decorative.

Outside parts of the playground are made from recycled materials, even the ground. A white roof reflects the sun and will help lower energy costs.

A nature trail is also available to students. "Tells about the different plants and animals in the area. Also tells about the green aspects of the building and also is an exercise trail, so it marks the half mile point, the mile point and it's also a bicycling path," adds Morehead.

Two interactive panels for instruction are outside the library. With just a touch of the screen, students can find out the weather, how much water the building is using, and details about the green parts of the school.

"They're going to know when they leave here why are we doing that, why is that important, and then they're going to carry that home," says Amanda Williams. The kindergarten teacher is very excited about the new school year.

The green concept isn't just a part of the building and the design, it's also going to be incorporated into the classroom.

"They took that green curriculum and they put it in literacy where it fits with stories and social studies and science," says Morehead.

Even walking down the halls is a lesson in being green. Artwork doubles as educational information in areas like conservation, biomass fuel, and solar energy.

If you want to see the school in person, there's going to be a dedication ceremony and grand opening Monday August 20 at 3 p.m.