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Two Delaware schools named Green Ribbon honorees

The U.S. Department of Education today released the names of the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees.  Two schools from Delaware are among the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS). 

Odyssey Charter School and the nonpublic Ursuline Academy received the national honor.

Delaware also will recognize Indian River School District, Las Americas Asprira Academy charter school, Red Clay Consolidated School District’s William F. Cooke Elementary School and the nonpublic St. Anne's Episcopal School as state winners during a celebration to be scheduled for this fall.

"We're proud of the ways these schools have worked to reduce the environmental impact of their facilities, improve the health and wellness of their students and staff, and build strong sustainability education programs into their curriculum," Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said.

Below are excerpts from each school's application. Find full applications and photos below. 

  • Odyssey: In just three short years, Odyssey has implemented several major sustainability initiatives on our urban campus. We have built an edible garden with 24 raised beds (750 sq. ft), added a community chicken coop (ten hens and a rooster), built an outdoor classroom, planted 27 trees, built pollinator and milkweed gardens, and implemented an indoor aeroponic garden program. Every season, as part of our Farm to School Program, KN-12th grade students consume vegetables harvested from the garden. The extra produce is delivered to staff who sign up to receive a free, personally delivered share to their office or classroom. This bounty is also shared with the local community, and over 1,000 pounds of produce have been donated to local distribution and support programs. Furthermore, in 2019, the school purchased an interactive and mobile culinary cart to teach KN-12th grade students how to be food citizens. High school students in Food Studies participate in weekly cooking labs and 7th-8th grade students take an exploratory culinary arts course taught through a Greek lens. Produce from our many gardens serve as ingredients for these innovative courses. Our mission to create global citizens is illuminated in our eco-conscious international studies opportunities. In the spring of 2020, high school students will be travelling to Germany and Switzerland to learn more on innovative sustainability efforts by seeing state-of-the-art models of renewable energy. Faculty and students will bring these experiences back to Odyssey to enhance their learning and course experiences. Lastly, we have already fundraised and secured grant funding to expand our garden program to 40 raised beds to serve our students and our broader community. The Green Team will also plant a sensory garden in a common area. Finally, the school is scheduled to add two pygmy goats to complete our urban farm program in spring 2020.

Odyssey planting  

Odyssey recycling

  • Ursuline: Environmental education is taken very seriously at Ursuline. Students in the Lower School have benefitted from an outdoor classroom in which students use raised beds for vegetables and herbs, design and build birdhouses, compost with worms, graph rainfall, maintain a wildlife edible Christmas tree, and much more. The outdoor classroom was certified as a Schoolyard Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation in 2019. Students in grades K-5 have taken part in the “Wander and Wonder” program, an innovation program for our Lower School in which students are encouraged to wander outside, learn about a certain topic and then wonder about future questions. For example, students in grade 4 created and tested weather vanes at the nearby reservoir area to see the difference between local, global and prevailing winds. Then they “wondered” about wind turbines and their negative effect on birds and worked together for ideas that could maybe help solve this problem. Each grade has a different topic to “wander and wonder” about. Students in grades 3-6 participated in an “energy expo” in the spring of 2019 where they were able to see how energy works, experience alternative forms of energy and learn about energy conservation. This program will be repeated, using high school students to educate the younger grades as they go from station to station during the expo.

Ursuline

Ursuline Environmental Expo  

Across the country, 39 schools, 11 districts, and five postsecondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. 

The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 27 states. The selectees include 28 public schools, including three magnet schools and four charter schools, as well as 11 nonpublic schools. Forty-five percent of the 2020 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body.   

The list of all selected schools, districts, colleges, and universities, as well as their nomination packages, can be found here. A report with highlights on the 55 honorees can be found here. More information on the federal recognition award can be found here. Resources for all schools to move toward the three Pillars can be found here.