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March 1, 2021
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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

New York City, Scarsdale and Ithaca Schools Honored for Environmental Sustainability Practices and Curriculum

The State Education Department today honored three schools as New York State Green Ribbon Schools, Commissioner Betty A. Rosa announced. These schools are New York’s nominees for the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) program distinction. The award recognizes schools that reduce environmental impact and costs; improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and provide effective environmental and sustainability education. This year’s honorees are the Magnet School for Environmental Studies and Community Wellness (PS90) in Brooklyn, Scarsdale Middle School in Scarsdale, and New Roots Charter School in Ithaca.

“The Board and I commend the students, educators and staff in these schools for their commitment to improving their communities and working to build a cleaner, safer environment for all,” Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. said. “Recent natural disasters have shown that environmental responsibility is imperative for our planet and our next generation. These schools are not only setting an example for their students, they are setting an example for their community and schools across the state.” 

“To be honored here in New York and 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,” Commissioner Rosa said. “It’s inspiring these students are committed to creating a cleaner, greener environment and they are positioned to be our future environmental and clean energy leaders.”

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 USDE 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 honored the Magnet School for Environmental Studies and Community Wellness (PS90) in Brooklyn for staff and students’ efforts to decrease use of electricity and other sources of power using “Green Teams,” an award-winning, intensive 11 stream recycling program, and the decision to adopt a plant-based menu building-wide. It is a magnet school focused on two themes: environmental studies and community wellness. Students analyze a real-world problem and create projects to combat or resolve that problem. New this year, the school partnered with community groups to install and care for a beehive on the building’s roof as part of a commitment to teaching about sustainability and the importance of bees as pollinators.

Scarsdale Middle School in the Scarsdale Union Free School District is being recognized for allowing its students and teachers to lead in developing and introducing innovative practices in energy production, conservation, lifestyle modification, food production and building technology. Teachers are encouraged to use fewer resources and take careful consideration of the use of those resources in their curriculum. Students have been involved in growing their own food using conventional and innovative practices to consider local choices. They plan and develop space for seasonal growing, harvest and donate food unable to be shared in the classroom and prepare ingredients for cooking. 

Finally, New Roots Charter School in Ithaca is the Department’s third honoree. New Roots was designed with a whole-school model to fully integrate the core practices of education for a sustainable future. Using both traditional and innovative curriculum areas, students are supported in learning actively, thinking critically, and solving problems creatively and collaboratively. Students, educators, and staff are reducing the environmental impacts through transparent monitoring of energy and water use and a comprehensive recycling and composting program. A Farm-to-School Program provides a free, healthy breakfast and lunch for every student and staff member, emphasizing regional and organic whole foods.

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

For more information on the program, please visit the NYS Green Ribbon Schools website.