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February 15, 2019
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JP O'Hare

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State Education Department Announces New York State Nominees for Federal Green Ribbon Schools Program

The State Education Department today nominated two schools for the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) program distinction. The nominees are Sanfordville Elementary School and Warwick Valley Middle School, both located in Warwick, New York.

“By taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint and become more climate friendly, these schools are not only setting an example for their students, they are setting an example for their community and schools across the state,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “I commend the students and staff in these schools for their commitment to improving their community and working to build a cleaner, safer community for all.”

“To be nominated for this prestigious national award is truly an outstanding achievement and I congratulate staff, students and school board for their commitment to creating sustainable and healthy school communities, said Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.  “I am inspired to see the next generation of clean energy leaders in these schools and encouraged that they will continue to advance efforts to ensure a cleaner environment for future generations.”

The ED-GRS program recognizes schools where staff, students, officials and communities have worked together to produce energy efficient, sustainable and healthy school environments and to ensure the environmental literacy of graduates. The recognition award is part of a larger U.S. Department of Education effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about practices proven to result in improved student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates, and workforce preparedness, as well as a government-wide goal to increase energy independence and economic security. 

The Green Ribbon Schools recognition award is given to schools that have demonstrated high achievement in all three ED-GRS Pillars:

  1. Reduce environmental impact and costs;
  2. Improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and
  3. Provide effective environmental and sustainability education.

The Department nominated Sanfordville Elementary School in recognition of its overall philosophy and goal for all students to learn green practices and empower them as “green” leaders in the community. Sanfordville Elementary School established a Green Team facilitator, Green Team teacher leaders and a student Green Cub Club. The third- and fourth-grade students in the Green Cub Club lead their school community in composting in every classroom, as well as the cafeteria. Student partners have visited every K-4 classroom in the school to share their knowledge of composting. These students have also designed and created public service announcement videos focusing on water conservation and recycling that were shared with the entire school and posted on the district’s website.

Additionally, the Green Cub Club has visited local farms, as well as welcomed experts on sustainability. These visits further expanded the student knowledge of green practices, which they then shared with their classmates and presented at Warwick’s Earth Day Festival. 

Warwick Valley Middle School was nominated for the tremendous strides it has made in reducing environmental impacts and costs. The school recently installed 9,000 solar panels on 10 acres of land; making it the largest solar farm operated by a school district or public agency in the state.

Warwick Valley Middle School educators also engage with Sustainable Warwick, a community organization whose goals are shared by Warwick Valley Middle School educators: namely, to increase public understanding of sustainability by providing information and encouraging individuals, community organizations, businesses, schools and government agencies to cooperate in protecting environmental quality and reducing carbon emissions.

These efforts will also continue to be integrated into every operational aspect of the school — from energy sources to school meals and transportation. The school will continue to increase classroom based and extracurricular activities that allow students to focus on improving the environment and promoting sustainability.

Honorees of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools competition will be announced in a ceremony held in Washington DC this coming fall.

For more information on the Green Ribbon Schools program, please visit the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools website.

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