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News Release - Three Colorado Schools Named Education Green Ribbon Schools

April 24, 2012

News Release

Three Colorado schools named among first-ever U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

78 winning schools in 29 states and D.C. represent a diverse portfolio

The Colorado State Board of Education met this week for a regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, April 11. Highlights from the meeting include:

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, together with White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, announced that three Colorado school have earned the prestigious national Green Ribbon Award.

Flagstone Elementary School (Douglas County School District) in Castle Rock, Denver Green School (Denver Public Schools) in Denver and Wellington Middle School (Poudre School District) in Wellington are among 78 schools named by the U.S. Department of Education as its inaugural Green Ribbon Schools. Colorado is among 29 states and D.C. with schools receiving the first-ever awards.

“Science and environmental education play a central role in providing children with a well-rounded education that prepares them for the jobs of the future,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Green Ribbon Schools demonstrate compelling examples of the ways schools can expand their coursework while also helping children build real world skill sets, cut school costs, and provide healthy learning environments.”

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is a federal recognition program that opened in September 2011. Typical characteristics of these award-winning schools is that they exercise a comprehensive approach to creating “green” environments through reducing environmental impact, promoting health, and ensuring a high-quality environmental and outdoor education to prepare students with the 21st century skills and sustainability concepts needed in the growing global economy.

“We are pleased to see these three schools taking measures to reach high levels of achievement in sustainability, health and environment education while reducing their impact on the environment,” said Colorado Commissioner of Education Robert Hammond. “Our winners have set a high bar for expectations.”

Flagstone Elementary has been committed to reducing environmental impacts for the past six years. The school dedicates one teacher solely to teaching students about the “Future of Energy and Sustainability.” The school focuses efforts around three Eco-Schools USA pathways to sustainability: energy, consumption and waste and school grounds. Since their building lacks much of the green technology that Douglas County’s newer buildings boast, they use student teams to identify problems, devise solutions, and act to create change.

At the Denver Green School the buildings and grounds are learning laboratories. Second-graders conduct school-wide light and energy audits. The sixth-grade class performed a water audit and first-graders implemented a Terra Cycle project. The school’s solar panels provide electricity and allow students to use web-based, real time tools to monitor the energy production and carbon savings. The school garden and one acre farm uses 1 million gallons less water per year than the turf they replaced.

Wellington Middle School has a strong commitment to a conservation culture which is highlighted by Energy Star certifications over the last four years. School wide composting and recycling programs reduce solid waste generated by students and staff. The school’s “green team” work to keep the school focused on saving energy, recycling and tracking the wind turbine energy data.

The 78 awarded schools were named winners from among nearly 100 nominees submitted by 30 state education agencies, the District of Columbia and the Bureau of Indian Education. More than 350 schools completed applications to their state education agencies. Among the list of winners are 66 public schools including 8 charters, and 12 private schools composed of 43 elementary, 31 middle and 26 high schools with around 50 percent representing high poverty schools. The U.S. Department of Education’s “Green Ribbons” are one-year recognition awards. Next year’s competition will open in summer 2012.

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