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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #17-18
March 3, 2017
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Honors California Green Ribbon Schools Award Winners

SACRAMENTO —State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated three California school districts and two individual schools to compete in the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition program, which honors schools that conserve resources while promoting health and environmental literacy.

“These schools and districts serve as role models for their students in two important ways,” said Torlakson, who started his public service career as a high school science teacher and coach. “First, they manage their own facilities wisely by saving energy, conserving water, and reducing their impact on the environment. Next, they provide innovative education programs that teach students about nature, the importance of clean air and water, and how to make good choices to preserve the environment for future generations.”

Torlakson said this is especially important now that the environment is facing so many threats, such as climate change. “These schools follow and advance a proud California tradition of caring for the environment and preserving our state’s stunning, natural resources that are celebrated and known throughout the world,” he said.

The nominees are:

  • Culver City Unified School District, Los Angeles County
  • Montecito Union School District, Santa Barbara County
  • Redondo Beach Unified School District, Los Angeles County
  • Yosemite High School, Merced, Merced County
  • The Thacher School (private), Ojai, Ventura County

The schools and districts were also named "Green Achievers," the highest honor in the California Green Ribbon Schools recognition program.

“Through their environmental practices, the schools and districts we honor today are teaching students to be responsible stewards of our precious resources,” Torlakson said. “I commend their commitment to instill policies and habits that will continue our forward progress in establishing healthy campuses and communities.”

Green Ribbon Schools demonstrate exemplary achievement in three “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 education that teaches many disciplines and is especially good at effectively incorporating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, civic skills, and green career pathways.

The California Green Ribbon Schools recognition award uses the applications submitted for nomination to ED-GRS to recognize schools and school districts for environmental excellence. Private school awards are conferred by the California Association of Private School Organizations (CAPSO).

California is one of 29 nominating authorities, including 28 states and the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity that nominated schools and districts for federal recognition this year. The U.S. Department of Education will confirm state nominees on April 24, 2017. California's continued participation and leadership in the program is a recommendation of Torlakson’s Environmental Literacy Task Force.

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 and download A Blueprint for Environmental Literacy: Educating Every Student In, About, and For the Environment.

California's ED-GRS Nominees

Culver City Unified School District, Los Angeles County

CCUSD’s Environmental Sustainability Committee has worked for more than six years to foster a culture of sustainability. During the 2011-12 school year, the committee launched the “Green5” co-curricular sustainability education program to increase awareness amongst students and staff about the “Five Rs:” Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Ride, and Rethink. Energy efficiency is bolstered by a 750 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system that meets 82 percent of energy needs at the district’s main campus. CCUSD was an early adopter of the California Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) External link opens in new window or tab. curriculum.

Montecito Union School District, Santa Barbara County

MUSD’s school greening efforts have been guided by a comprehensive Sustainability Plan since 2011, creating a focused roadmap framed by the Three Pillars of Green Ribbon Schools. Efforts include programs to improve composting and recycling efforts at lunchtime, invigorate the environmental education curriculum, and build partnerships in the community. Funding from the California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39 External link opens in new window or tab.) jump started school investment in a high-efficiency LED lighting retrofit. MUSD earned CA-GRS Bronze Level recognition in 2015 and Gold Level recognition in 2016.

Redondo Beach Unified School District, Los Angeles County

RBUSD is committed to ensuring student and staff safety at school and in the home, promoting excellence in teaching and learning in modernized school facilities that provide model learning environments, maintaining high academic expectations for all students, and enhancing partnerships with the larger community. Many new facilities are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifiable or certified, and each school campus houses solar shade structures. RBUSD earned CA-GRS Gold Level recognition in 2016. Several district schools earned recognition in 2016 and 2017.

Yosemite High School, Merced Joint Union High School District, Merced County

Yosemite High School (YHS) serves the whole child with a Coordinated School Health approach; students have daily access to a registered nurse, a health aide, and a counselor. Students lead the school vermicomposting program and a collaboration with Tree Partners USA has helped YHS to select regionally appropriate plantings in an effort to reduce the heat island effect. YHS has a training solar array on campus. This equipment engages students in project-based learning by affording them the opportunity to assemble and disassemble a solar panel just outside their classroom doors. The demonstration system has the capability to produce a total of 4.16 kilowatts. Students in the Green Technology and Energy Conservation (GTEC) pathway have presented information to the school board demonstrating that a switch to solar could result in an annual savings of $40,000.

The Thacher School, Ojai, Ventura County

Thacher’s tradition of helping students build a deep connection to nature is finding new expression along the journey to make the campus into a model of sustainability. Thacher has adopted The Whole-School Sustainability Framework External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) and aligned it to a sustainability action plan so that, along with the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools criteria, the school can tackle sustainability from all angles. In June 2016, a new solar farm went live, providing 92 percent of the school’s electricity needs. Water conservation projects have also sprung up all around campus, including rainwater catchment systems, greywater systems in all school dormitories, and xeriscaping projects on school grounds.

California Green Ribbon School Additional Awardees

Public Schools
  • Adams Middle School, Redondo Beach Unified (Gold)
  • Quail Lake Environmental Charter School (Gold)
  • Redondo Union High School, Redondo Beach Unified (Gold)
  • Rogers Middle School, Long Beach Unified (Gold)
  • Sunset Elementary School, San Francisco Unified (Gold)
  • Alameda Science and Technology Institute, Alameda Unified (Silver)
  • Alta Vista Elementary School, Redondo Beach Unified (Silver)
  • Birney Elementary School, Redondo Beach Unified (Silver)
  • Casey Elementary School, Rialto Unified (Silver)
  • Franklin Classical Middle School, Long Beach Unified (Silver)
  • Goethe International Charter School, Los Angeles Unified (Silver)
  • Great Oak High School, Temecula Valley Unified (Silver)
  • Kumeyaay Elementary School, San Diego Unified (Silver)
  • Lake Canyon Elementary School, Galt Joint Union Elementary (Silver)
  • Meiners Oaks Elementary School, Ojai Unified (Silver)
  • Monterey Road Elementary School, Atascadero Unified (Silver)
  • Palos Verdes High School, Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified (Silver)
  • Charles W. Eliot Middle School, Pasadena Unified (Bronze)
  • Kimbark Elementary School, San Bernardino City Unified (Bronze)
  • Madison Elementary School, Redondo Beach Unified (Bronze)
  • Tulita Elementary School, Redondo Beach Unified (Bronze)
  • Sunset High School, Del Norte County Unified (Bronze)
  • Las Virgenes Unified School District, Los Angeles County (Gold)
  • Rialto Unified School District, San Bernardino County (Gold)
  • Sacramento City Unified School District, Sacramento County (Gold)
  • Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District, Placer County (Gold)
  • Cypress School District, Orange County (Bronze)
Private Schools
  • Maple Village Waldorf School, Los Angeles County (Gold)
  • Pacific Ridge School, San Diego County (Gold)
  • Woodside Priory, San Mateo County (Gold)
  • Ojai Valley School, Ventura County (Gold)
  • Turning Point School, Los Angeles County (Silver)
  • St. James Academy, San Diego County (Bronze)

# # # #

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

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