Today marked another historic milestone for the green schools movement, as the 78 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools announced during Earth Week were recognized at a national ceremony in Washington, DC. Secretary Arne Duncan joined EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley and U.S Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin in congratulating the honorees for their exemplary practices.
The winning schools, diverse in the student populations, and representing 29 states and the District of Columbia, all took a comprehensive approach to greening their schools, making strides to reduce their schools’ environmental impact, improve health and provide education geared toward the sustainability challenges of the 21st century.
Duncan congratulated the schools on their tremendous work, noting their practices to improve student achievement, increase student engagement and provide effective professional development are practices that all should follow, not just aspiring green schools.
While all the selected schools have outstanding stories, Secretary Duncan highlighted Arabia Mountain High School in Lithonia, Ga.,, which requires every student take AP Environmental Science, and is exceeding state and county assessment scores. At Lothrop Technology Magnet School in Omaha, Neb., school gardens, and complementary practices such as composting, are a critical tool to getting even the youngest students learning and experiencing science first-hand.
ED released a document with highlights and success stories from the 2012 honorees. The Secretary also announced the first installment of the Green Strides Webinar Series, to help all schools move toward reduced environmental impact, improved health and effective sustainability literacy, the three ‘Pillars’ of the award.
Honorees were awarded Forest Stewardship Council and Green Guard certified plaques and biodegradable banners made of recycled bottles. This winter, all schools in participating states will have another opportunity to apply to their state education agencies in competition for state’s nominations for next year’s awards. ED will publish 2013 criteria this summer for states to develop those competitions and will require state agencies to submit their nominees in early 2013. Sixteen states have already indicated their intent to nominate schools in the next round of the recognition award competition.