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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #19-26
March 27, 2019
Contact: Jonathan Mendick
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Congratulates California Green Ribbon Schools Award Winners

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that 20 schools, three districts, and one county won 2019 California Green Ribbon Schools Awards. Among these winners, California also nominated one 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. The full list of recognized schools is attached at the end of this press release.

“Congratulations to this year’s honorees,” said Thurmond. “California Green Ribbon Schools engage our kids to understand and act on behalf of their environment. From global-sized problems like climate change to local challenges like water quality, sustainability education grows the creativity, critical thinking skills, and environmental literacy our students need in order to lead now and into the future.”

The five ED-GRS nominees are:

  • Carrisa Plains Elementary School, Atascadero Unified, San Luis Obispo County
  • Eagle Rock Elementary School, Los Angeles Unified, Los Angeles County
  • Quail Lake Environmental Charter, Sanger Unified, Fresno County
  • Rialto Unified School District, San Bernardino County
  • St. James Academy (private) in Solana Beach, San Diego 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 28 state authorities nominating schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions for ED-GRS recognition this year. The U.S. Department of Education will confirm state nominees later this spring.

Details on each California nominee are below. For more information, please visit the CDE's Green Ribbon Schools Award Program web page.

California's ED-GRS Nominees
Carrisa Plains Elementary School, Atascadero Unified, San Luis Obispo County

At Carrisa Plains Elementary School, students are responsible for daily vermicomposting that produces “worm tea” to help the garden flourish while keeping lunch waste out of the landfill. To support the watering needs of the gardens, students use water collection basins. Recently, instructional time was set aside for students to create “habitats” for native animals to use as hideouts. In January 2014, Carrisa Plains started monitoring the school’s energy usage. In the same year, it also installed a photovoltaic system, which provides 100 percent of the school’s electricity. At the beginning of the 2015–16 school year, Carrisa Plains Elementary School began to integrate a “no-waste” ideology that incorporates composting procedures into students’ daily educational program. This led to quarterly waste audits where students and staff gather waste materials and sort, weigh, and discuss the implications of the amount of waste created by the site.

Eagle Rock Elementary School, Los Angeles Unified, Los Angeles County

Eagle Rock Elementary underwent a major transformation in 2016, removing 23,789 square feet of asphalt, replacing this with a permeable surface made of decomposed granite and native/drought-tolerant trees and plants. Garden programs, a monarch butterfly way station, outdoor classrooms, and many other opportunities coincide with a Green Club, a Garden Club, a Green Team, and environmental learning throughout the education experience. Programs include activity-based learning opportunities that empower students to explore their environment and undertake environmental challenges that require problem-solving and critical thinking. They learn how ethical decision-making, as well as an appreciation for diversity and adaptability, is a civic responsibility for creating sustainable and collective change for our environment.

Quail Lake Environmental Charter, Sanger Unified, Fresno County

Quail Lake Environmental Charter uses integrated, hands-on curriculum and real world experiences to make critical connections to the sustainability of our environment. Students learn the importance of environmentalism by using green practices at school, integrating the California Next Generation Science Standards across content areas, and through project-based learning in the garden and composting area. Recycling initiatives and health and wellness programs complement outdoor education. Through the school’s Physical Education Department, students participate in a “Nutrition Wednesday” where they learn healthy eating habits, calorie intake and expenditure, and physical exercise techniques. Garden harvests provide students with education on healthy eating practices, and students taste-test their vegetables during lunch.

Rialto Unified School District, San Bernardino County

Rialto Unified has long prioritized teaching students to be responsible citizens of a global society. This includes being one of the first districts in California to develop and earn University of California approval for courses based on environmental sciences that promote students making “green” college and career choices. The district also works on reducing energy and water consumption, supports recycling and composting programs, and purchases and uses environmentally friendly products. RUSD STEM CARES (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Cultivating Active Responsible Environmental Stewards) uses locally relevant environmental issues to inspire students to think globally and act locally to improve their community and their world. RUSD’s Science Lead collaborates with Facilities and Nutrition Services staff to enhance outdoor learning environments and nourish students with locally sourced fruits and vegetables, bringing the curriculum to life.

St. James Academy, private school in Solana Beach, San Diego County

St. James is a small school that is governed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego. Development of the school campus, including a green schoolyard with an outdoor teaching classroom and reading area, Native American and colonial teaching gardens, worm composting, a pollinator garden, and monarch conservation, is guided by a master plan. In 2017, all K–8 students performed an original musical version of Dr. Seuss’s environmental fable “The Lorax” in the school yard, and that Christmas, the Lorax performers marched in Encinitas Christmas parade in recycled costumes to promote sustainability. School officials at St. James also mentored a second Catholic school in the Diocese, St. Martin of Tours Academy, to submit a Green Ribbon application.

All California Green Ribbon School Awardees
Public Schools
  • Altamont Creek Elementary, Livermore Valley Joint Unified, Alameda County (Silver)
  • Quail Lake Environmental Charter, Sanger Unified, Fresno County (Green Achiever)
  • Eagle Rock Elementary, Los Angeles Unified, Los Angeles County (Green Achiever)
  • Los Coyotes Middle, Norwalk-La Mirada Unified, Los Angeles County (Bronze)
  • Theodore Roosevelt Elementary, Desert Sands Unified, Riverside County (Bronze)
  • Crowne Hill Elementary, Temecula Valley Unified, Riverside County (Bronze)
  • Margarita Middle, Temecula Valley Unified, Riverside County (Bronze)
  • Red Hawk Elementary, Temecula Valley Unified, Riverside County (Bronze)
  • Temecula Valley High, Temecula Valley Unified, Riverside County (Bronze)
  • Dr. John H. Milor High, Rialto Unified, San Bernardino County (Silver)
  • Georgia Morris Elementary, Rialto Unified, San Bernardino County (Silver)
  • Buena Vista Elementary, Carlsbad Unified, San Diego County (Bronze)
  • Carrisa Plains Elementary, Atascadero Unified, San Luis Obispo County (Green Achiever)
  • Creston Elementary, Atascadero Unified, San Luis Obispo County (Silver)
  • San Benito Elementary, Atascadero Unified, San Luis Obispo County (Silver)
  • Santa Rosa Academic Academy, Atascadero Unified, San Luis Obispo County (Gold)
  • Los Altos High, Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, Santa Clara County (Silver)
Local Education Agencies
  • Pittsburg Unified, Contra Costa County (Bronze)
  • Hermosa Beach City Elementary, Los Angeles County (Silver)
  • Rialto Unified, San Bernardino County (Green Achiever)
  • San Mateo County Office of Education (Bronze)
Private Schools
  • St. James Academy, San Diego County (Green Achiever)
  • St. Martin of Tours Academy, San Diego County (Gold)
  • Francis Parker, San Diego County (Silver)

# # # #

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

Last Reviewed: Wednesday, March 27, 2019
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