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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #18-31
April 23, 2018
Contact: Scott Roark
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Torlakson Honors California
Green Ribbon Schools Award Winners

SACRAMENTO— State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated one California school district and four 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.

“Green Ribbon schools are leading the way in resource conservation, health and wellness, and environmental literacy,” said Torlakson, who started his public service career as a high school science teacher and coach. Torlakson stressed that green schools are especially important now that the environment is facing so many threats.

“California won’t reach our smart and ambitious climate goals without the public sector—and especially without public schools—leading the way,” he said. “We need to protect our magnificent and precious natural resources, and learn more about topics such as the causes of global warming and the acidification of the oceans.”

The nominees are:

  • Jack London Community Day School, Valley Glen, Los Angeles County
  • Monterey Road Elementary School, Atascadero, San Luis Obispo County
  • Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, Placer County
  • Top of the World Elementary School, Laguna Beach, Orange County
  • Maple Village Waldorf School (private), Long Beach, Los Angeles County

These five are also California’s "Green Achievers," the highest honor in the California Green Ribbon Schools recognition program.

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 25 states as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity that are expected to nominate schools and districts for federal recognition this year. Continued participation and leadership in the program is a recommendation of Torlakson’s Environmental Literacy Task Force.

The U.S. Department of Education will confirm state nominees in May 2018.

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 (PDF; 1MB).

California's ED-GRS Nominees
Jack London Community Day School, Valley Glen, Los Angeles County

At Jack London Community Day School, sustainability is not only about the environment, it’s about empowering students to become positive agents of change through environmental citizenship. In 2013, the school put sustainability principles into action by converting an 18,000-square-foot asphalt parking lot campus into an urban, edible garden for the community. Science and horticulture curriculum are integrated into a single four-year Career Technical Education pathway combining environmental science and sustainable landscaping. And urban horticulture is taught as a way to meet the needs of an increasingly urban environment without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Monterey Road Elementary School, Atascadero, San Luis Obispo County

Monterey Road school programs promote exercise, positive school climate, sustainability, and garden time—all integrated across the curriculum. The campus was modernized in 2012 and energy use was reduced by 70 percent over the following five years. Monterey Road has also reduced the use of chemical cleaners by using microfiber cloths for cleaning. The school began an annual student-led waste audit in January 2015. All students separate lunchtime waste into compost, liquid, recyclable, and landfill bins. Students were involved with all steps of the process to design, construct, and maintain the school’s Food Forest, which is designed to function like a forest ecosystem with fruit trees, vegetable plants, California natives, herbs, and berries. The Food Forest is used as an outdoor learning space where lessons are taught in connection with the California Next Generation Science Standards.

Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, Placer County

Tahoe Truckee Unified (TTUSD) has a long history of conservation efforts to reduce energy and water use, dating back to 2002 when the district adopted cool-roof standards. The District’s first green building project was Alder Creek Middle School, which received Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) External link opens in new window or tab. verification in 2005. All current projects are designed to LEED Silver standards External link opens in new window or tab.. A “Farm-to-School” district, salad bars utilizing locally-grown produce are located at all sites. Since 2006, TTUSD has implemented the Harvest of the Month program, which features California-grown produce for the purpose of engaging students in the world of agriculture and nutrition.

Top of the World Elementary School, Laguna Beach, Orange County

Top of the World Elementary (TOW), nestled in the hills of Laguna Beach, has always had a focus on developing environmentally and socially conscious students by providing opportunities for them to make positive impacts locally and globally. There are three onsite gardens used as outdoor classroom spaces, an 18-foot geodesic dome greenhouse, and outdoor cooking stations. During the 2016–17 school year, students spent a combined 10,000 hours learning outdoors. TOW uses digital devices and do many assignments online to save paper. PTA, principal, and district announcements are all sent digitally, reducing paper waste. Students also use the solar power generated from a solar array on the shed roof to power a blender and make smoothies, and collect weather data for analysis through a school-wide WeatherBug system on building roofs.

Maple Village Waldorf School (private), Long Beach, Los Angeles County

Maple Village Waldorf School (MVWS) opened in 2007 with a three-pronged philosophy: having little to zero waste, lots of outdoor time, and a reverence for others and the environment. The school’s STEM by Nature initiative trains and supports teachers in the use of the natural world, school grounds, and field trip experiences to teach STEM content and skills. Teachers use environmental phenomena to engage the students in inquiry-based lessons. Through activities such as composting, rainwater capture, and gardening, students use the school grounds and surrounding community to deepen their understanding of the natural world.

California Green Ribbon School Additional Awardees
Public Schools
  • Alameda Science and Technology Institute, Alameda Unified (Gold)
  • Lincoln Middle, Alameda Unified (Gold)
  • Rancho Vista High, Temecula Valley Unified (Gold)
  • Palos Verdes High, Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified (Gold)
  • Anderson W. Clark Magnet High, Glendale Unified (Silver)
  • Carrisa Plains Elementary, Atascadero Unified (Silver)
  • Georgia Morris Elementary, Rialto Unified (Silver)
  • Meiners Oaks Elementary, Ojai Unified (Silver)
  • Milor Continuation High, Rialto Unified (Silver)
  • Nick G. Parras Middle, Redondo Beach Unified (Silver)
  • North Ridge Elementary, Moreno Valley Unified (Silver)
  • Paloma Elementary, Temecula Valley Unified (Silver)
  • Sunset K-8 School, Ventura Unified (Silver)
  • Ysabel Barnett Elementary, Temecula Valley Unified (Silver)
  • Center Street Elementary, El Segundo Unified (Bronze)
  • Foothill Middle, Mt. Diablo Unified (Bronze)
  • Kimbark Elementary, San Bernardino City Unified (Bronze)
  • Monterey Peninsula Unified, Monterey County (Gold)
  • Rialto Unified, San Bernardino County (Gold)
  • San Carlos Elementary, San Mateo County (Gold)
  • Chaffey Joint Union High, San Bernardino County (Bronze)
  • Moreno Valley Unified, Riverside County (Bronze)
  • San Mateo County Office of Education (Bronze)
Private Schools
  • Woodside Priory, San Mateo County (Gold)
  • Jesuit High School, Sacramento County (Silver)
  • St. James Academy, San Diego County (Silver)

# # # #

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

Last Reviewed: Monday, February 24, 2020
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