Green Ribbon Schools Honored in Washington, D.C.

Congratulations again to the 2013 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools! The sixty-four winning schools were announced in April, but they were honored yesterday at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Additionally, 14 school districts were recognized with the District Sustainability Award.

The ceremony – attended by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Acting EPA Administrator Bob Persiacepe, among others – honored the schools for their “exemplary efforts to reduce environmental impact and costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education, including STEM, green careers and civics.”

Staff from Earth Day Network’s Education Program, which collaborated with other leaders in the green schools movement and the Dept. of Education to help make this initiative happen, were on hand for the event.

Green Ribbons Announcement

One of the great things about the Green Ribbon Schools program is all of the interagency support it has – and that was on display at the event.  Representatives from the Department of Education, EPA, Department of Agriculture, and the White House all spoke at the event and commented on how their work fits into the initiative. Sec. Duncan also said that this was his “favorite event to attend.”

“Together, healthy, safe and modern facilities combined with wellness practices like outdoors physical activity, nutritious food and hands-on environmental learning form a strong foundation for a quality education,” said Duncan. “These schools and districts exhibit best practices to reduce costs and increase achievement, health and equity, for all schools, not just aspiring green schools.”

EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe commented, “The Green Ribbon Schools and District Sustainability Awardees are preventing harmful pollution that leads to illnesses like asthma and creating healthier learning spaces for our children. Thanks to the efficient technology and energy-saving practices that help them achieve their goals, the awardees are also saving money. As we see time and time again, sustainability is good for our environment, our economy and, most importantly, our children’s health. And because the students who attend these schools have a firsthand understanding of the link between environmental protection and public health, sustainability is also good for our future; it helps empower the next generation of environmental stewards.”

The Green Ribbon Schools were exceptionally diverse. The list included 54 public schools and 10 private schools. 29 states and the District of Columbia were represented, with over half of the winners serving a student body with at least 40% of students eligible for free or reduced price lunch. Day Network is especially proud to have worked with one of the Green Ribbon winners, Yu Ying PCS, to build an observation deck and outdoor classroom in preparation for their application.

Many of the speakers reiterated that this award is not the end of the work that these schools are doing.  They must now reach out to other schools and school districts around them to help grow the movement. After all, the deadline for a state agency to indicate their intent to nominate a school for the 2014 awards is fast-approaching: August 1, 2013.

Learn more about the winners and the selection process.

Be sure to check out the Educators’ Network, which provides valuable resources and lesson plans for environmental educators.