April 20, 2023
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Announces 2023 California Green Ribbon Schools Award Winners
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that 14 schools, five school districts, and one county office of education earned 2023 California Green Ribbon Schools awards. Among these state honorees are five “Green Achievers” that are nominated by State Superintendent Thurmond to receive U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition. The U.S. Department of Education today confirmed all five California Green Achievers as ED-GRS honorees, which are recognized for conserving resources while promoting health and environmental literacy. California’s honorees are among 26 schools, 11 districts, and four postsecondary institutions being honored nationally.
“We congratulate this year’s honorees,” said State Superintendent Thurmond. “California Green Ribbon Schools exemplify leading-edge models for improved indoor air quality, outdoor classrooms, and whole-school environmental education. Students in these schools address global problems such as climate change and local challenges including water quality, food security, energy conservation, waste diversion, and emotional health. Once again, I am pleased that more than half of these honorees are within some of the state’s highest-need communities. California’s Green Ribbon Schools are leading the way for our students to develop the creativity and critical thinking skills they need to be environmental stewards now and into the future.”
California’s 2023 ED-GRS honorees are:
- Santiago STEAM Magnet Elementary School, Saddleback Unified School District, Orange County
- Redwood High School, Sequoia Union High School District, San Mateo County
- Moreno Valley Unified School District, Riverside County
- Jefferson Elementary School, Carlsbad Unified School District, San Diego County
- Bellarmine College Preparatory (private school), Santa Clara County
The California Green Ribbon Schools award uses the applications submitted for ED-GRS recognition to recognize schools and districts for environmental excellence. Private school awards are conferred by the California Association of Private School Organizations.
More details on California’s ED-GRS honorees and a list of the California Green Ribbon Schools honorees are below. For more information, please visit the California Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools Award Program web page.
California's 2023 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Honorees
Santiago STEAM Magnet Elementary School, Saddleback Unified School District, Orange County
Santiago STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Magnet Elementary School develops customized, high-quality, project-based learning units to give students the agency to develop real-world solutions for issues directly affecting the school. Student-developed and student-led initiatives include waste diversion and sitewide conservation efforts guided by research in collaboration with local experts. The school is improving decades-old infrastructure with eco-conscious upgrades in water-efficient fixtures, Light Emitting Diode indoor and outdoor lighting, and heating and ventilation. Volunteer-led initiatives include the addition of efficient aerators to all sinks; highly water-efficient, all-native gardens utilizing bioswales and soil remediation techniques; restored wildlife habitat and ecological learning spaces; a Green Parent Teacher Association policy that includes equitable low- or no-waste events/programming; and the diversion of 70 tons from landfills by using reclaimed materials for the construction of outdoor learning environments. All students partake in a positive behavior reinforcement program that recognizes good behavior with experiential rewards.
Redwood High School, Sequoia Union High School District, San Mateo County
Redwood High School, an alternative continuation high school, serves students in eleventh and twelfth grades who request a smaller learning environment, may need to recover credits, or prefer smaller class sizes. In 2018, the school was remodeled, and many intentional design choices were made regarding sustainability and energy efficiency, including onsite photovoltaic power generation, water-wise plumbing fixtures, and energy-efficient heating and ventilation systems. The school’s newly installed drip irrigation systems, multiple bioswales, and emphasis on planting native and drought-tolerant plants contributed to a documented 74.5 percent reduction in outdoor water use on campus. Redwood High School students and staff and local experts collaborated on waste auditing to create the school’s closed-loop composting system to reduce waste. The school uses Safe Routes to School grant funding to provide a fully stocked on-site bike shed with an employee who teaches students how to maintain their bikes. Redwood High School features a three-quarter-acre organic food forest, greenhouse, chicken coop, compost system, and outdoor classroom to support students across disciplines, ages, and experience levels.
Moreno Valley Unified School District, Riverside County
Moreno Valley Unified School District (MVUSD) is 60 miles east of Los Angeles and serves more than 31,500 students in prekindergarten through twelfth grades. In 2020, MVUSD created an Energy Specialist Manager position responsible for optimizing the use of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; irrigation; and other energy-using systems. The Energy Specialist Manager also connects with every school and teacher to share energy conservation, health and wellness, and educational resources. MVUSD’s Transportation Department transitioned its diesel buses to electric and responsible fuels; the fleet now includes 42 electric school buses, 28 Compressed Natural Gas buses, and 31 propane buses. MVUSD uses funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program to provide elementary school students with additional fresh fruits and vegetables as a snack outside regular meal service. MVUSD’s North Ridge Elementary features the Model Environmental Science Area, where students learn about healthy eating, botany, and wildlife.
Jefferson Elementary School, Carlsbad Unified School District, San Diego County
Jefferson Elementary is an accredited International Baccalaureate (IB) school serving students from transitional kindergarten through fifth grade in the Carlsbad Unified School District. Through a Carlsbad Unified School District-board-approved Facility Master Plan, Jefferson replaced heating, cooling, lighting, and water systems to increase efficiency. The school also planted drought-tolerant landscaping to reduce water use and installed a water bottle filling station for students and staff to cut down on the use of plastic. In 2019, Jefferson began participating in the Sage Garden Project to support the school in forming its four gardens and a garden/nutrition program. The program provides students with weekly nutrition and cooking classes using ingredients from the garden to deepen their understanding of healthy food choices and the science and math of cooking. Jefferson develops effective environmental and sustainability education through the IB Primary Years Programme and project-based, hands-on learning. All students participate in IB Primary Years Programme units centered on California’s Next Generation Science Standards Environmental Principles and Concepts.
Bellarmine College Preparatory (private school), Santa Clara County
Bellarmine College Preparatory is a private Jesuit school in San Jose. Since 2010, Bellarmine’s new construction and renovation projects have met the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification standards for including innovative and environmentally sustainable approaches. The school generates energy onsite using 466 photovoltaic panels and uses a natural gas co-generation system to heat the pool and showers while generating electricity from the heat of combustion. In 2017, Bellarmine adopted its Sustainability Mission to guide the school’s curricular, programmatic, and student service options. As a result, initiatives including waste diversion through composting and recycling, offering students healthier food options, and building an organic garden to donate its harvest to local food pantries are high priorities for the school. The school builds student capacity for eco-literacy within its sustainable engineering projects in its Maker Lab and Advanced Placement Environmental Science courses. Between the two courses, almost every student participates in some form of environmental literacy education.
2023 California Green Ribbon School Awardees
- Santiago STEAM Magnet Elementary, Saddleback Unified School District, Orange County (Green Achiever)
- Redwood High, Sequoia Union High School District, San Mateo County (Green Achiever)
- Jefferson Elementary, Carlsbad Unified School District, San Diego County (Green Achiever)
- Nancy R. Kordyak Elementary, Rialto Unified School District, San Bernardino County (Gold)
- Eisenhower Senior High, Rialto Unified School District, San Bernardino County (Gold)
- Sebastopol Independent Charter, Sebastopol Union School District, Sonoma County (Silver)
- Parkview Elementary, Hueneme Elementary School District, Ventura County (Silver)
- Mary Bragg Elementary, ABC Unified School District, Los Angeles County (Silver)
- Henry Elementary, Rialto Unified School District, San Bernardino County (Silver)
- Oxnard High, Oxnard Union High School District, Ventura County (Silver)
- Dr. Ernest Garcia Elementary, Rialto Unified School District, San Bernardino County (Silver)
- Bella Mente Montessori Academy, Vista Unified School District, San Diego County (Silver)
- Community Roots Academy, Capistrano Unified School District, Orange County (Bronze)
- Hollister High, San Benito High School District, San Benito County (Bronze)
Local Educational Agencies
- Moreno Valley Unified School District, Riverside County (Green Achiever)
- Cabrillo Unified School District, San Mateo County (Silver)
- Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District, Solano County (Silver)
- Rio School District, Ventura County (Silver)
- Fremont Union High School District, Santa Clara County (Silver)
- San Joaquin County Office of Education, San Joaquin County (Silver)
- Bellarmine College Preparatory, Santa Clara County (Green Achiever)
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Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100