Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, has earned a reputation as an institution that provides opportunities for students to learn about the environment across disciplines as well as participate in extracurricular opportunities. The school offers AP Environmental Science to all students, participates in the International Envirothon Competition, and has an active Green Club.
AP Environmental Science has been offered at Highlands for the past ten years; students are tested on the College Boards AP curriculum in May and have maintained more than a 60 percent pass rate. Students in APES are also given the opportunity to do fieldwork, such as visiting a local creek and doing an extensive watershed study or analyzing energy use at home or a local business. Students have visited wastewater treatment plants, nature preserves, mitigation sites, power plants, recycling plants, and other facilities to learn firsthand the processes and problems that are connected to the environment.
Students are also involved in service-learning, including planting a pollinator garden at the Harlan Hubbard Studio and designing low-impact strategies on the high school campus and building rain gardens to collect runoff. In addition, students have completed passion projects—from learning to make plastic yarn out of plastic grocery store bags and weaving those into mats to growing milkweed and handing out information and plants about the Monarch Butterfly.
Every year, Highlands High students participate in the Jim Claypool writing contest with the Campbell County Conservation district; each year for the past several years, numerous regional and at least one state winner have been from Highlands High.
Highlands also has two extracurricular opportunities that relate to environmental education. The school’s Green Club focuses on sustainability and other issues the group selects from year to year. They have been actively running the school’s recycling program, which first involved acquiring the bins from the waste management company and now centers on distributing and collecting the items every week. Students have also been involved with the Earth Day Celebration at Tower Park, leading nature walks and tree identification games. Finally, the school’s Envirothon Team was established in 2010 and has grown to have two teams compete each year.