Four Washington School Recognized in First Ever US Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Ceremony
"Our junior high was recognized for excellence in sustainability education with the first ever National Green Schools award. Our students promote a healthy life style through an excellent health and fitness curriculum which includes outdoor use of numerous trails through beautiful wooded acreage, energy conservation and reducing food waste spearheaded by the school's Green Team, and a core curriculum that includes a comprehensive unit on how to preserve and protect the Puget Sound. Students develop a deep awareness of the importance of environmental health, take action in sharing what they learn with audiences beyond the school, and engage directly with various stakeholders. Our field experience on a Washington State ferry introduces students to scientists and business people who all have a vested interest in the health of the Puget Sound. Stewardship is the goal of our sustainability curriculum as we work to educate our students in making informed decisions to preserve and protect our Northwest environment."
- Nancy Skerritt, Assistant Superintendent for the Tahoma School District
Senior Administration officials honored the first-ever U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) this morning at a ceremony held in Washington, D.C. Among the inaugural honorees are 78 schools that represent 29 states and the District of Columbia. The program was developed by the Department with support from the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), several other agencies and dozens of non-profit stakeholders.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined White House CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin to address the honorees and congratulate them on their achievements. Representatives from winning schools received plaques and banners in recognition of their high achievement in saving energy, reducing costs, providing healthy learning spaces, and offering education geared toward the challenges of the 21st century.
"These schools represent a broad portfolio of urban, suburban, and rural communities, working to provide students with a high-quality, well-rounded education, healthy living, clean environments and best practices for reducing our environmental impact," said Secretary Duncan. "Green Ribbon Schools are an inspiration and deserve the spotlight for embodying strong examples of innovative learning and civic engagement."
"By embracing 'green' these schools have demonstrated their commitment to incorporating environmental practices in education," said White House CEQ Chair Sutley. "The U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools winners honored today are taking bold steps to increase environmental awareness that will have an impact on the health of America's students and create the next generation of environmental stewards."
The U.S. Department of Education released a document with highlights from the 2012 honorees. Along with the awards, Secretary Duncan 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 Green Ribbon award.
"Every child should have a safe and healthy place to learn, and every parent should have confidence that sending their child to school in the morning doesn't mean exposing them to environmental threats," said EPA Administrator Jackson. "These Green Ribbon Schools are making our schools healthier places to learn, and giving students hands-on STEM learning opportunities that show them how the environment connects to their own lives. Those experiences will be valuable to their future, and ours."
"The Green Ribbon Schools program is a wonderful example of our overall National Prevention Strategy to increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life," said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Benjamin. "These schools show us how we can make health and wellness a part of our children's everyday lives."
In 2012, more than 350 schools completed applications to some 30 state education agencies. Schools will have another opportunity to apply to their state education agencies for their nominations to the Department this winter. Next year's program criteria will be published this summer for states to develop those competitions and will require state agencies to submit their nominees in early 2013. Fourteen states have already indicated their intent to nominate schools in the next round of the competition.