Hughes Middle School is among 64 schools named this week by the U.S. Department of Education as National Green Ribbon Schools. The schools were honored for their exemplary efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, promote better health, and provide effective environmental education.
The announcement on Earth Day came from Washington, D.C., where U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, along with the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley, and Acting Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Bob Perciasepe revealed the winners of the second annual award.
"We're thrilled to be recognized with this high honor," Hughes Principal Sally Gregory said. "Congratulations to our Green Team parent volunteers, teachers, staff and students who have worked so hard to reduce our impact on the environment. They've set a national example, and we couldn't be prouder."
Secretary Duncan said the winning schools are modeling a comprehensive approach to being green.
“They are demonstrating ways schools can cut costs; improve health, performance and equity; and provide an education geared toward the jobs of the future,” Duncan said. “In fact, the selected districts are saving millions of dollars as a result of their greening efforts.”
The announcement marked the second year in a row that a Long Beach school has won the national honor. Last year, Longfellow Elementary School, located adjacent to Hughes, earned the award.
Hughes earned a U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star 2012 award for energy conservation, with a perfect score of 100. Since 2007, students have built 12 themed gardens and planted more than 40 campus trees. New landscaping on the campus perimeter includes 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 schoolwide eco-newsletter that includes healthy recipes using produce from the school's gardens. Interpretive signs outline the environmental principles in the school's landscaping, like composting, vegetable gardening, xeriscaping, butterfly gardening, recycling, biodiversity, beneficial herbs, and labyrinth walking. Hughes partners with a local bike store to host monthly bike repair and safety workshops on campus, encouraging ridership throughout the community.
Hughes supports environmental service projects by students, staff and community members, resulting in hundreds of students actively participating in eco-service projects each year.