Lowell and Twain elementary schools each have won the 2014 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Award. The acting Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Mike Boots, joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in announcing the winners recently in Washington, D.C. The awards recognize exemplary efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, promote better health, and provide effective environmental education.
Secretary Duncan congratulated the winners for serving as examples for schools nationwide.
"What they have in common is a clear and compelling vision, outstanding teamwork and extraordinary leadership," Duncan said of the honorees. "They demonstrate a real commitment to serving students with the most exceptional, healthy and sustainable learning environments and instruction you can find anywhere... Thank you so much for the difference you make in the lives of your students and the example you set for all of us."
View video of the Washington, D.C. announcement.
Forty-eight schools were honored nationally, and nine school districts were honored for the District Sustainability Award.
Lowell and Twain are the only individual public schools statewide nominated by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson for this year’s national Green Ribbon Awards. The other winners from California this year included San Domenico School, which is a private school in Marin County, and the Encinitas Union School District, which won in the school district category.
“I applaud these schools for their excellence in sustainability education, health and wellness, and environmental stewardship,” Torlakson said.
At Lowell, every child participates in the Learning Garden, totaling 8,000 instructional hours per year. Student Green Team members divert more than 28,000 gallons of classroom recyclables annually from the trash. Car Free Fridays eliminate more than 150 pounds of carbon dioxide per week and encourage exercise. Fifty-five percent of students walk or bike to school, and students take more than 15 walking field trips each year. Lowell is Energy Star certified.
“This award represents the core and foundation of what makes Lowell a very special place for students, teachers, staff, families and our community,” Lowell Principal Sam Platis said. “A special thanks goes out to all of our teachers, school district staff, our PTA and our multiple award-winning Green Team, who have collaborated closely over the course of many years to make this accolade possible. Our school, community and planet are a better place because of all of you.”
The Twain Green Team engages 35 percent of students but reaches the entire school community. A monthly "Bottles and Cans Day" earns the school $2,500 annually in recycling income. Twain is an American Heart Association Teaching Gardens School and is Energy Star certified.
“Our Green Team and our entire school community deserve this prestigious honor,” Twain Principal Ellen Ryan said. “Twain’s dedicated parents, students and staff have worked tirelessly to save energy and reduce waste, for instance, diverting 85 percent of lunchtime trash from landfills. In the meantime, our students are learning valuable lessons about protecting the environment.”
Hughes Middle School earned the Green Ribbon Award last year. Longfellow Elementary School earned the award in 2012, the inaugural year of the awards.
Among the community partners assisting with several local schools’ recycling efforts is the City of Long Beach’s Environmental Services Bureau and its recycling specialist Lisa Harris, who helps ensure that schools receive additional recycling bins – the same purple, curb-side ones that residents use. Learn more at longbeach-recycles.org, and find additional information about the Green Ribbon program at ed.gov.