California 2013 Green Ribbon Nominees AnnouncedFebruary 15th, 2013
We are excited to spread the news that State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced nominees of four schools and one public school district to represent California in the second year of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Awards at a news conference on the campus of Hughes Middle School in Long Beach, CA.
The nominees are:
- Charles Evans Hughes Middle School (Long Beach Unified School District)
- Journey School of Aliso Viejo (a public charter school associated with Capistrano Unified School District)
- Redding School of the Arts (a charter school in Shasta Union High School District)
- Prospect Sierra School of El Cerrito, a private school in El Cerrito
- Ventura County's Oak Park Unified School District
"These outstanding schools are proof that every school day can provide teachable moments about protecting and sustaining our environment," Torlakson said. "As a science teacher myself, I'm thrilled to see how these schools are taking what we know about good environmental practices and putting them to work right on campus."
Green Schools Initiative's Co-Founder and Executive Director, Deborah Moore, helped as a parent volunteer at Prospect Sierra School, where her daughter started in Kindergarten, to initiate many of the school's sustainability and environmental education efforts. Based on her experience at Prospect Sierra, Green Schools Initiative was founded with concerned parents from other schools to promote healthy and sustainable schools across the state.
The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) unveiled the Green Ribbon Schools Award Program in September 2011. The California Department of Education collaborated with several state agencies and interested organizations, including Green Schools Initiative, in developing the Green Ribbon Schools award application. The award criteria are based on three pillars: (1) environmental impact and energy efficiency; (2) healthy school environments; and (3) environmental sustainability and education. Winning schools are exemplary models of effective collaboration among students, teachers, parents, staff, and communities that strive for reducing environmental impacts, healthy food and outdoor activities, and environmental literacy of graduates.
In this second year, 39 states, the District of Columbia, and the Bureau of Indian Education are participating in the award program. Each state is allowed to submit up to four school nominees, one of which must be a private school, and one public school district. The California Association of Private School Organizations reviewed the private school applications and determined the private school nominee. If a state submits more than one public school, one must be a school with at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The applications of the nominees are being forwarded today to the US
Department of Education for consideration in the national awards. The
national winners are expected to be announced around Earth Day, April
All applicants underwent a rigorous review before the four finalists and a school district were selected:
Public School Nominees:
Charles Evans Hughes Middle School, Long Beach, Los Angeles County Extending sustainable practices to the community
Hughes earned a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy ENERGY STAR 2012 award with a perfect score of 100. Since 2007, students have built 12 themed gardens and planted over 40 campus trees. New landscaping on the campus perimeter is comprised of plants known to capture particulate matter in an effort to improve air quality for the school and its neighbors. Hughes' Student Green Team publishes the "Green Gazette," a school-wide eco-newsletter that includes healthy recipes using produce from the school gardens. Hughes partners with a local bike store to host monthly bike repair and safety workshops on campus, encouraging ridership across the community.
Journey School, Aliso Viejo, Orange County
A school founded with ecological goals in mind
Journey's eco-literacy curriculum is integrated into the master teaching schedule to ensure students are exposed to age-appropriate ecological principles and practices in each grade. Eighth graders complete eco-leadership projects where they implement environmental projects that benefit the school campus and local community. Journey maintains five school gardens, harvests rainwater, and composts on-site. Students enjoy zero emission field trips, walking or biking to their destinations.
Redding School of the Arts (RSA), Shasta County
Raising the bar for innovative and sustainable design
RSA is the first campus worldwide to be certified LEED for Schools 2009 Platinum. The school design includes solar power generation, solar water heaters, and a wind turbine; 58 percent of the school's energy is obtained from on-site renewable sources. RSA is a pilot school for CalEPA's Education and the Environment Initiative curriculum and received a 2012 Design Excellence Award from the American Institute of Architects for innovation in design blending indoor and outdoor learning spaces. An underground water storage tank reroutes rainwater harvested from the roof structure to provide 100 percent of grounds irrigation.
Private School Nominee:
Prospect Sierra School, El Cerrito, Contra Costa County
Students are active in reducing environmental impacts
Students at the private Prospect Sierra School in northern California are committed to improving their campus and community. Students designed and implemented a 180-gallon rainwater harvesting system to serve the school garden. Students also planted trees in a multi-year creek restoration project, and enjoy meaningful outdoor learning experiences at every grade level. Prospect Sierra is recognized by the National Association of Independent Schools as a model "School of the Future."
California's District Nominee:
Oak Park Unified School District, Oak Park, Ventura County
Students are leaders in environmental stewardship
Oak Park was one of one three California school districts to receive the California Department of Public Health's 2012 Achievements in Respiratory (AIR) Health Award for implementing strategies that have improved indoor air quality, supporting student health, as well as academic outcomes. Oak Park High School students were recognized with the 2011 President's Environmental Youth Award for their annual Week of Whales project, which educates all district students on whale protection issues. Students developed lesson plans, conducted research, and organized school and community events that reached thousands. The district emphasizes sustainability on a day-to-day basis by providing hydration stations on all campuses to promote reusable water bottles and ensuring 80 percent of paper content district-wide is sustainably sourced or manufactured.
For more information on the USDE Green Ribbon Schools Program, please visit the CDE Web site at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/fa/sf/greenribbonprog.asp.
For Torlakson's Schools of the Future initiative, please visit the CDE Web site at