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Christine Miles, 503-947-5637

April 23, 2012

Oregon Schools Honored for Commitment to Sustainability

Four Oregon schools receive national Green Ribbon Schools Award

(Salem, Ore.) – Superintendent Susan Castillo, along with the U.S. Department of Education, is pleased to announce Oregon’s 2012 U. S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools. The award recipients for Oregon are: Catlin Gabel School (Portland), Gladstone High School (Gladstone), Sunnyside Environmental School (Portland), and Willamina Elementary (Willamina).

“These four schools are models of how we can integrate sustainability into our classrooms and our school buildings,” said Superintendent Castillo. “Whether through school gardens, environmental restoration and research projects, lunch-room composting, energy efficiency measures, or student-led waste audits, these schools are leading the way and preparing their students with the skills and awareness they will need to meet the sustainability challenges we face in our communities and our world.”

This is the first year of the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools recognition program which honors schools with a comprehensive approach to creating “green” environments through reducing environmental impact, promoting health, and ensuring high-quality environmental and outdoor education. Nationally, 78 schools from 29 states and the District of Columbia received the award. Click here to access the U.S. Department of Education’s press release on the announcement.

“Educating our students to be able to create a sustainable future needs to include the school’s effort to address its own sustainability impacts and student and staff health, in addition to classroom instruction for sustainability,” said Lori Stole, Manager of the Sustainable Oregon Schools Initiative. “This award is recognizing schools doing just that and it is wonderful to see them receiving this well-deserved recognition.”

At Catlin Gabel, a private preschool through grade 12 school in Portland, sustainability is one of the school’s core values. The Outdoor School promotes environmental awareness and responsibility, and students participate in environmental restoration projects both on and off of campus, engage in service learning, work in the school garden, and learn about sustainability issues both in Oregon and around the globe. The school has also put a great deal of focus on reducing its environmental impact and has received recognition for their water and waste reduction and their use of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel for buses. They have increased their local food purchasing and introduced washable dishware and a lunch-time composting program. Click here PDF for Catlin Gabel’s award application.

At Gladstone High School students are leading the way with the Green School Club which conducts trash and energy audits, pushed for the school board to adopt a sustainable practice policy, put in place recycling and composting programs, built a garden and cob structures in the courtyard, and introduced a rainwater collection system. The group also pushed for more high school sustainability curriculum and better integration of sustainability into the school culture. Their efforts resulted in reduced energy consumption and costs for the school and won the school the Governor’s Sustainability Award in 2010. The group is currently working to build a strong farm-to-table program that would significantly reduce food transport costs while increasing the quality of food served and support local farmers. Click here PDFfor Gladstone’s award application.

At Sunnyside Environmental School, a K-8 school in Portland, environmental education has been the focus for almost two decades. The school incorporates environmental education, place-based experiences, and service learning across the grades. The school’s extensive gardens bring home the focus on local foods and give hands on experience with green gardening. The whole school embraces sustainability from the solar panels on the roof to the water catchment system, the robust recycling and composting programs, to the school chicken coop. Students conduct regular inquiry experiments in the field, often traveling to the locations via public transportation and the school encourages walk and bike to school activities. All of these activities are designed to promote student engagement, responsibility, and mindfulness around our impact on the natural world. Click here PDF for Sunnyside’s award application.

At Willamina Elementary, a rural K-6 school in the Willamette Valley, both social and environmental sustainability have been integrated into the curriculum at all grades. The school has been designated an Oregon Green School by the Oregon Green Schools Association, and the student-led Green Team helps to lead school-wide sustainability efforts including recycling, composting, and the creation of a conservation policy for the district. The school uses only 100% green, plant-based cleaning products and has increased its energy efficiency, dramatically reduced waste, and focuses on local, minimally packaged foods. The school meals also receive very local produce straight from the school farm. Click here PDFfor Willamina’s award application.

Oregon had a combined application for the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Award and the Oregon Sustainable School Awards. The five Oregon Sustainable School winners will be announced in early May.

Susan Castillo, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Christine Miles, Communications Director, Telephone (503) 947-5637

Oregon Department of Education News Releases contain information that was originally released to the press as an official release.  Refer to each News Release for the details.

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