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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #13-49
April 22, 2013
Contact: Pam Slater
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Congratulates Four California Schools, One District on Being Named National Green Ribbon Award Winners

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson applauded four California schools and a school district for receiving "Green Ribbon" recognition from the U.S. Department of Education today for promoting environmental awareness on campus while preparing students to succeed in the emerging green economy.

The 2013 U.S. Green Ribbon winners are: Oak Park Unified School District, Oak Park, Ventura County; Charles Evans Hughes Middle School, Long Beach, Los Angeles County; Journey School, Aliso Viejo, Orange County; Redding School of the Arts II, Redding, Shasta County; and private school, Prospect Sierra School, El Cerrito, Contra Costa County.

"I am proud of these schools and districts for earning their green ribbons by reducing environmental impacts while increasing awareness of the fragile world we live in," Torlakson said. "Students who have had the chance to improve the air, or grow a vegetable, or capture the rain will never look at the world the same way again. I hope all California students get this chance to learn how to protect the Earth and all those who live here."

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools is a federal recognition program that started in September 2011. Honored schools exercise a comprehensive approach to creating "green" environments through reducing environmental impact, promoting health, and ensuring a high-quality environmental and outdoor education to prepare students with the 21st century skills and sustainability concepts needed in the growing global economy.

U.S Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan made the announcement of the winning schools during a news conference this morning as the nation celebrates Earth Day at Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School, in Washington, D.C., one of the 2013 honored schools.

Sixty-four schools were honored for their exemplary efforts during this second-annual event to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education, including civics and green career pathways.

The list of selectees includes 54 public schools and 10 private schools. The public schools include seven charter, five magnet and four career and technical schools. The schools serve various grade levels, including 40 elementary, 23 middle and 19 high schools are among them, with several schools having various K-12 configurations, from 29 states and the District of Columbia. More than half of the 2013 honorees serve a student body more than 40 percent of which is eligible for free and reduced-price lunch. The list of all selected schools and districts, as well as their nomination packages, can be found at the U.S. Department of Education Green School Awards Page [] External link opens in new window or tab.. A report with highlights on the 78 honorees can be obtained from the U.S. Department of Education's GreenRibbonSchools Highlights from the 2013 Honorees External link opens in new window or tab. (DOC; 2MB).

Each participating state can nominate one district and up to four schools, one of which must be a private school. One must also be a school with at least 40 percent of its students eligible for free and reduced-priced lunch.

California's participation in the program is a key recommendation of Torlakson's Schools of the Future Task Force. The group brought together educational, environmental, business, and community leaders to encourage the use of renewable energy sources and other sound environmental practices at schools across California.

The California Department of Education reviewed each application for the program based on schools' demonstrated progress toward reaching the goals of the U.S. Department of Education's Three Green Ribbon School Pillars: Pillar I: Reduce environmental impact and costs; Pillar II: Improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and Pillar III: Provide effective environmental and sustainability literacy, incorporating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education (STEM), civic skills, and green career pathways.

Details on each California nominee are below. For more information, please visit the California Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools Award Program Web page or Torlakson's initiative at Schools of the Future.

California's 2013 U.S. Green Ribbon Schools and District:


Oak Park Unified School District, Oak Park, Ventura County
Students are leaders in environmental stewardship

Oak Park was one of one three California school districts to receive the California Department of Public Health's 2012 Achievements in Respiratory (AIR) Health Award for implementing strategies that have improved indoor air quality, supporting student health, as well as academic outcomes. Oak Park High School students were recognized with the 2011 President's Environmental Youth Award for their annual Week of Whales project, which educates all district students on whale protection issues. Students developed lesson plans, conducted research, and organized school and community events that reached thousands. The district emphasizes sustainability on a day-to-day basis by providing hydration stations on all campuses to promote reusable water bottles and ensuring 80 percent of paper content district-wide is sustainably sourced or manufactured.

Public Schools:

Charles Evans Hughes Middle School, Long Beach, Los Angeles County
Extending sustainable practices to the community

Hughes earned a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy's ENERGY STAR 2012 award with a perfect score of 100. Since 2007, students have built 12 themed gardens and planted over 40 campus trees. New landscaping on the campus perimeter is comprised of plants known to capture particulate matter in an effort to improve air quality for the school and its neighbors. Hughes' Student Green Team publishes the "Green Gazette," a school-wide eco-newsletter that includes healthy recipes using produce from the school gardens. Hughes partners with a local bike store to host monthly bike repair and safety workshops on campus, encouraging ridership across the community.

Journey School, Aliso Viejo, Orange County
A school founded with ecological goals in mind

Journey's eco-literacy curriculum is integrated into the master teaching schedule to ensure students are exposed to age-appropriate ecological principles and practices in each grade. Eighth graders complete eco-leadership projects where they implement environmental projects that benefit the school campus and local community. Journey maintains five school gardens, harvests rainwater, and composts on-site. Students enjoy zero emission field trips, walking or biking to their destinations.

Redding School of the Arts (RSA), Shasta County
Raising the bar for innovative and sustainable design

RSA is the first campus worldwide to be certified LEED for Schools 2009 Platinum. The school design includes solar power generation, solar water heaters, and a wind turbine; 58 percent of the school's energy is obtained from on-site renewable sources. RSA is a pilot school for CalEPA's Education and the Environment Initiative curriculum and received a 2012 Design Excellence Award from the American Institute of Architects for innovation in design blending indoor and outdoor learning spaces. An underground water storage tank reroutes rainwater harvested from the roof structure to provide 100 percent of grounds irrigation.

Private School:

Prospect Sierra School, El Cerrito, Contra Costa County
Students are active in reducing environmental impacts

Students at the private Prospect Sierra School in northern California are committed to improving their campus and community. Students designed and implemented a 180-gallon rainwater harvesting system to serve the school garden. Students also planted trees in a multi-year creek restoration project, and enjoy meaningful outdoor learning experiences at every grade level. Prospect Sierra is recognized by the National Association of Independent Schools as a model "School of the Future."

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Monday, August 5, 2019
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