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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #21-33
April 22, 2021
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Announces 2021 California Green Ribbon Schools Award Honorees

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that 21 schools and two school districts earned 2021 California Green Ribbon Schools awards. Among these state honorees are five “Green Achievers” nominated by the State Superintendent to receive U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition.

The U.S. Department of Education today confirmed all five Green Achievers as ED-GRS honorees, which are recognized for conserving resources while promoting health and environmental literacy. California’s honorees are among 27 schools, three early learning centers, five districts, and five postsecondary institutions being honored nationally.

“The pandemic has driven home the vital importance of school buildings and grounds, health and wellness, and hands-on authentic learning,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “I congratulate the selected schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions, which are, through their sustainability practices, offering healthy, safe, efficient school environments and protecting our planet. Not surprisingly, many of our honorees support students in underserved communities, proving once again that green schools’ practices, encompassing best practices school operations, health, and environmental learning, are critical tools to advance equity.”

“Congratulations to this year’s Green Ribbon Schools, all of whom rose to the challenge of continuing their work in schoolwide sustainability, despite strenuous conditions caused by a global pandemic,” said Thurmond. “Despite the fact that some the schools recognized are within some of the state’s most disadvantaged areas, I’m thrilled that they are being honored. Environmental literacy helps not just the local school, but is the ultimate example of place-based education—immersing students in service projects that benefit the whole community. California’s Green Ribbon Schools program empowers students to hone the skills they’ll use to lead and inspire their local communities to act on behalf of the environment.”

California’s 2021 ED-GRS honorees are:

  • Fryberger Elementary School, Westminster, Orange County
  • May Ranch Elementary School, Val Verde Unified, Riverside County
  • Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School, Desert Sands Unified, Riverside County
  • Los Altos High School, Mountain View-Los Altos Union High, Santa Clara County
  • The Nueva School (private), San Mateo County

The California Green Ribbon Schools award uses the applications submitted for ED-GRS recognition to recognize schools and school districts for environmental excellence. Private school awards are conferred by the California Association of Private School Organizations. Details on California’s ED-GRS honorees and a list of the California Green Ribbon Schools honorees are below. For more information, please visit CDE's Green Ribbon Schools Award Program web page.

California's ED-GRS Honorees
Fryberger Elementary School, Westminster, Orange County

Through thematic, project-based learning units centered around California's Next Generation Science Standards and Environmental Principles and Concepts, Fryberger students engage in real-world ecological activities from organic farming in the school's garden to combatting microplastics in the ocean. After installing new energy-efficient HVAC systems, campus-wide LED lighting, and a solar array that produces 90 percent of the school's energy needs, the school developed a customized Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) program educating students on how these improvements help combat climate change. The school maintains an 80 percent waste-diversion rate with students cleaning and sorting biodegradable foodservice containers and maintaining a school compost bin with red worms to break down food waste from meal service. Fryberger also practices weekly mindfulness activities that teach students about the components of their brain, how to express their emotions, and how to set goals and never give up.

May Ranch Elementary School, Val Verde Unified, Riverside County

At May Ranch, the sustainable agriculture program utilizes green technologies; leads hands-on learning experiences; and provides the community with healthy, nutritious produce. Students study, plant, and maintain pollinator-friendly native plants, including indigenous, water-efficient plants in the garden. They also compost food scraps and maintain two vermicomposting towers with 1,000 worms. Through the school's garden, aeroponic towers, and vertical farm, May Ranch students produced more than 1,000 heads of lettuce for the cafeteria during the 2019–20 school year. Students harvest, weigh, and calculate the retail cost of produce provided to the cafeteria, and staff invoice the district's food services department. From 2017 to 2020, the City of Perris and May Ranch annually certified approximately 30 students as Junior Master Gardeners. Understanding the need to combat obesity and the city's status as a food desert, May Ranch continues to expand its garden and sustainability education, hands-on learning opportunities, and outdoor experiences for students.

Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School, Desert Sands Unified, Riverside County

Located in California's arid Coachella Valley, Roosevelt provides an education program that helps its students be environmentally conscious, civic-minded, healthy, and college- and career-ready. Since 2014, the school has participated in the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program, which informed and inspired its wellness policy. The school's STEM program focuses on renewable energy sources and ecological design to reduce carbon's impact on the environment. In 2020, the school began work with the United States Green Building Council's Building Learners program. The program teaches students and staff to use the Arc Skoru online sustainability benchmarking platform to evaluate the school for resource efficiency opportunities. At the end of the program, students will present sustainability recommendations to the City of Indio and the Desert Sands Unified School Board.

Los Altos High School, Mountain View-Los Altos Union High, Santa Clara County

Since 2009, Los Altos High has built a culture where parents, teachers, students, and administrators are invited to lead school greening efforts. The school’s Green Team environmental club partnered with local nonprofit GreenTown Los Altos to create an anti-idling campaign and organize community e-waste collection events. The Green Team brings a rolling composter directly to the quad area to collect food scraps from students at lunchtime. The PTSA Go Green Sustainability Committee provides reusable dinnerware and sustainability ideas to school groups for large events. In 2017, LAHS built a LEED Gold-certified classroom building with xeriscaping, bioswales, and solar panels. On-site solar meets approximately 55 percent of electric needs, combined with battery storage units to balance the load and cut peak energy demands during the day. The school provides electric vehicle charging stations to teachers and staff at no cost. Los Altos High also encourages alternative modes of transportation by enacting parking policies to encourage carpooling and providing storage for bikes and skateboards. The school also lobbied the city to prioritize bike and pedestrian routes over cars and parking. To improve health and reduce stress each quarter, students enjoy yoga in the quad, service animals on campus during finals week, and support for mindfulness activities during class time.

The Nueva School (private), San Mateo County

The Nueva School serves students in grades PK–12 at two campuses. The Hillsborough campus serves lower and middle school divisions, and the San Mateo campus serves the upper school division. The Hillsborough campus offers nearly 34 beautiful wooded acres for environmental exploration, including the LEED Gold-certified Hillside Learning Center. In contrast, the entirely LEED Gold-certified San Mateo campus reflects a sustainable urban design and features easy access to public transit. Students engage in various waste-reduction strategies ranging from a full plastic trash study in Kindergarten, to upper-grade students making their campus paper-cup free by switching to reusable mugs and hosting zero-landfill events. In 2019, Nueva launched a new environmental citizenship program to develop specific policies that integrate environmental literacy across the curriculum and educational activities. Program staff partner with faculty and administrators to support curriculum-adjacent activities and create meaningful integration of ecological learning and performance criteria in Nueva's trip program, student mentoring in clubs, and individual projects.

All California Green Ribbon Schools Awardees
Public Schools
  • Fryberger Elementary School, Westminster, Orange County (Green Achiever)
  • Los Altos High School, Mountain View-Los Altos Union High, Santa Clara County (Green Achiever)
  • May Ranch Elementary School, Val Verde Unified, Riverside County (Green Achiever)
  • Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School, Desert Sands Unified, Riverside County (Green Achiever)
  • Georgia Morris Elementary, Rialto Unified, San Bernardino County (Gold)
  • Milor Continuation High, Rialto Unified, San Bernardino County (Gold)
  • Rialto Middle, Rialto Unified, San Bernardino County (Gold)
  • William G. Jehue Middle, Rialto Unified, San Bernardino County (Gold)
  • Captain Leland Norton Elementary, San Bernardino City Unified, San Bernardino County (Silver)
  • Jefferson Elementary, Carlsbad Unified, San Diego County (Silver)
  • Katella High, Anaheim Union High, Orange County (Silver)
  • Kelley Elementary, Rialto Unified, San Bernardino County (Silver)
  • Nancy R. Kordyak Elementary, Rialto Unified, San Bernardino County (Silver)
  • South Hillsborough, Hillsborough City Elementary, San Mateo County (Silver)
  • Trapp Elementary, Rialto Unified, San Bernardino County (Silver)
  • Bella Mente Montessori Academy, Vista Unified, San Diego County (Bronze)
  • Eisenhower Senior High, Rialto Unified, San Bernardino County (Bronze)
  • Harbor High, Santa Cruz City High, Santa Cruz County (Bronze)
School Districts
  • San Rafael City High, Marin County (Silver)
  • Ravenswood City Elementary, San Mateo County (Bronze)
Private Schools
  • The Nueva School, San Mateo County (Green Achiever)
  • Bellarmine College Preparatory, Santa Clara County (Gold)
  • Cate School, Santa Barbara County (Gold)

# # # #

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

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, November 08, 2022
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