IL Green School Award recipients announced

Two schools and a district have received state recognition for their conservation efforts, as the Illinois State Board of Education announced the state’s three winners of the Illinois Green School Award program on March 6.


Participating States in green (Source: US Education Department)

The program recognizes schools that save energy, reduce costs, protect student and staff health and wellness, and offer environmental education. The recipients are

“As we prepare our students to be successful in the global economy, it is also important to teach them how to create and maintain a healthy lifestyle and a healthy global environment,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A Koch. “The work of these students and educators is an excellent example of how to weave all three components into teaching and learning for future success.”

Students and staff at Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School enjoy filtered drinking water fountains, which protect users from ingesting potential contaminants. Thanks to two refillable water stations, the school has seen a reduction in the amount of plastic bottles discarded and ultimately being taken to landfills. Their paper-recycling program along with a 1:1 netbook program has reduced the school’s paper consumption. They are working on the implementation of alternate sources of energy to further reduce environmental impact.

Students in Evanston Skokie School District 65 enjoy at least 120 minutes of physical education per week, including both formal PE classes and free-play recess time. At least 50 percent of the district’s PE classes are conducted outdoors whenever temperatures are above 40 degrees. Solar panels in three of the schools not only conserve energy but are also used for educational purposes. Students can go online and compare the energy generated by the solar panels at various times of the day.

Woodland Primary School in Gages Lake is an early childhood and kindergarten facility that is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to improve the health and wellness of their staff and young students. They have partnered with a local hospital to implement the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) program to help support health and wellness in the school and in the community. Administrators and staff believe that exposing young children to environmental topics lays the foundation for future instruction and learning.

The applications for these two schools and the district have been submitted to the US Department of Education’s Green Ribbon School awards program.

“It’s not just about being green, it’s about creating a learning environment that connects student health and the environment to academic achievement,” said Mark Bishop, Vice President of Policy and Communication, Healthy Schools Campaign. “These winning schools demonstrate that connection and are helping educate the next generation of Illinois’s leaders.”

Illinois is among 38 states and the District of Columbia participating in this year’s program. Applications for the program, which is in its third year, were submitted to ISBE in mid-November. Nominations reflect the US Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools’ three pillars: reduced environmental impact, improved health and wellness, and environmental literacy. The department will announce the national winners in April.

Each state may submit up to four nominees from public or private schools serving any configuration of K-12 grades. If a state nominates more than one public school, at least one must be a school with at least 40 percent of students eligible for free and reduced-priced school meals.

Following the announcement of the winners, there will be an award ceremony in Washington, D.C., in late May.

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On the Green Ribbon Schools site, one teacher puts the program in a soundbite short enough to print here:

My students have published several activities on the site. We’ve published activities about healthy eating, healthy lifestyles, car emissions, and a creek clean-up. It encourages my students to think about the importance of health, nutrition, and eco-friendliness. It also encourages my students to think about using technology in a responsible manner.

A list of the 2013 honorees from the US Department of Education is available here.