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Black Hill Partnership Blog

In the fall of 2015, Barnesville embarked on a school-wide partnership with Black Hill Regional Park to enhance outdoor and environmental education across the School’s curriculum. This blog chronicles related programs and activities.

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8th Grade Paddles and Picks Up Trash on Little Seneca Lake

8th graders spent June 4th exploring Little Seneca Lake and doing community service there to give back to the people at Black Hill Regional Park who have done so much for Barnesville students over the past several years.

One student group went kayaking with Ms. Munley, searching for waterfowl and other wildlife. The other group took a ride on a pontoon boat with Ms. Barnhart picking up any trash they found along the way. The groups then switched places.

Park naturalists Katrina and Tina led the kayaking group. Safety protocol as well as kayaking and paddling techniques were reviewed with students prior to taking the kayaks out. While on the water, students saw turtles, cormorants, blue herons, and beaver dams. Some students spotted a bald eagle in its nest with a baby eagle.

Park naturalist Lynette drove the pontoon boat. As students spotted trash either in the water or on the water’s edge, they worked in groups to sort bottles and cans into one bag and miscellaneous trash in another recycling bag. The two groups collected six bags of trash.

Afterwards, the groups rejoined one another for a picnic lunch, observing many different bird species. They ended the day with some free time on two different playgrounds on the Black Hill Regional Park grounds.

“It was a great way for the eighth grade to spend a day out in nature, enjoying time without their cell phones and interacting with one another face-to-face,” said Middle School Language Arts Teacher and Arts & Sciences Coordinator Tara Barnhart. “I was most impressed with how eager students were to locate trash and work together to help clean up the lake and surrounding areas. Watching the girls get so excited helping one another find the bald eagle nest with the baby eagle, was also a thrill!"

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Trout in the Classroom, Released

As part of the Middle School science curriculum, Barnesville 7th graders raised rainbow trout from eggs and released the fingerlings into Little Seneca Creek.


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3rd & 4th Grades Explore River Relationship to Bay

As part of their science curriculum, third and fourth graders participated in a Chesapeake Bay Foundation field study based on a research workboat on the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. While aboard the Bea Hayman Clark, students helped to test water quality, performed plankton studies, trawled for fish, and learned about the ecological health of our local waterways. On and off the boat, students were challenged to think about how they and their actions are connected to the Bay, playing particular focus to the streams near School that lead to rivers and ultimately into the Bay.

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4th & 7th Graders Win Awards at Carroll Carvers Show

Barnesville 4th and 7th grade students won awards for their bird carvings and silhouette paintings at the Carroll Carvers (Westminster, MD) competition.

Scarlet Tanager

  • 1st place, 2nd Best of Show Youth - Juliana B.
  • 2nd place - Zahria B.
  • 3rd place - Zoe S.

Artic Tern Silhouette
  • 2nd place - Ariana W.
  • 3rd place - Erin D.

Mr. Stenger, the award-winning bird carving expert who has been coaching the students, will be entering student submissions in the Annual Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD on April 26, 27 & 28.

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Plenty to observe, even on a rainy day, at the Black Hill Nature Center

On the first and second grade trip to the Black Hill Nature Center, students used special tools to visualize how insects see the world through compound eyes. Ms. Lynette helped them handle a black rat snake that has lived there since he was the size of a pencil. She explained the difference between handling tame and wild snakes.

Despite the rain, students went out on the observation deck where they used binoculars to look for birds and different types of nests.

Students enjoyed throwing seed bombs from the porch into the meadow. We got a bag of ingredients (water, clay, compost and wildflower seeds) that we took back to school to make more seed bombs.

They also had fun playing music on the pebble harp.

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How do plants and animals protect themselves?

Ms. Lynette, a naturalist from Black Hill Regional Park, taught first and second graders ways animals and plants protect themselves.

Children learned how scientists and engineers use observations about plants and animals in their inventions. An example of a past invention is observing birds before the invention of airplanes and helicopters. An ongoing invention is weaving the super strong stands from a spider web to make protective vests for police officers. Then children chose some of the ways animals and plants protect themselves and incorporated them in to a drawing of their own “Wild Child” creation.

Ms. Lynette also led a nature scavenger hunt around our campus. Among other things, students found lichen growing on our trees, which indicates we have good air quality. They also found the egg sack of a praying mantis and relocated it to a bush by the classroom door so they can watch for the hatchlings to emerge naturally. There could be as many as 300 hatchlings!

Later, students repotted milkweed to take home and spread around our campus. It is the perfect food plant for Monarch butterflies!

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Bird Carvings In Progress

Gary Stenger, a local wildfowl wood-carving specialist has been working with Barnesville students for the past several years, teaching carving and painting techniques for wildfowl art competitions.

This year, he is working with seventh graders to carve and paint Scarlet Tanagers and with fourth graders to paint silhouettes of Arctic Terns.

Mr. Stenger will be entering student submissions in the Carroll Carvers (Westminster, MD) competition as well as the Annual Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival in April.

January 2019 - 7th graders carve out features

March 2019 - 4th Graders Work on Feathers, 7th Graders Paint Feathers, Eyes, and Beaks

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An independent private school in
Montgomery County, Maryland
offering innovative preschool
through 8th grade programs.

Barnesville School

21830 Peach Tree Road
PO Box 404
Barnesville, MD 20838

p: 301.972.0341
f: 301.972.4076


We offer a vigorous academic program for students as well as engaging, hands-on learning experiences.


Our positive, supportive learning environment promotes imagination, exploration, personal growth, and achievement.

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