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Two schools honored as 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon winners

Brandywine School District’s Forwood Elementary and Caesar Rodney School District’s Postlethwait Middle School have earned Green Ribbon awards from the U.S. Department of Education for their work reducing environmental impact, improving health and wellness of students and staff and providing effective environmental and sustainability education.  
 
They are among the 45 schools, nine districts, and nine postsecondary institutions being honored nationally.  
 
“I commend each school, district, and institution of higher education for their efforts to create a healthy learning environment for students, faculty and staff,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said.  “These schools have done exemplary work to help prepare the rising generation for the careers and challenges of the 21st Century.”  
 
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 28 states and the Department of Defense Department of Education Activity. The selectees include 39 public schools, including five magnet schools and one charter school, as well as six nonpublic schools. Forty-four percent of the 2017 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body and 14 percent are rural. The postsecondary honorees include three career and technical and community colleges, USED said.
 
“I’m proud of Forwood Elementary School and Postlethwait Middle School, and the other Delaware schools that have received the Green Ribbon honor over the years, for setting such a good example for our state, for our nation and for our children,” said Senator Tom Carper, who serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and founder and co-chair of the U.S. Senate Recycling Caucus. “These schools are going beyond the classroom to teach kids about the importance of reducing our impact on the environment. They are walking the walk and, by doing so, are instilling lessons and good practices that will last a lifetime. I applaud these schools for not only educating the leaders of the future, but also actively working to leave them a better future too.”
 
Forwood was honored for a number of environmental and energy-savings initiatives, including the development of a Next Generation Science Standards-aligned  education program that allows students to plant, water, and harvest in raised-bed gardens. These activities are linked to science lessons developed by Dr. Thianda Manzara from Healthy Foods for Healthy Kids. Cafeteria staff then serve the salads made from the student-raised produce in the school cafeteria.
 
Forwood’s cafeteria is undergoing additional changes as well. Forwood Fifth Grade Leader Corp completed an audit of the school’s trash consumption and identified the need to recycle more plastic water bottles and milk jugs. The school is also working to replace all Styrofoam trays with recyclable ones. Forwood has also reduced its energy consumption and continues to educate students and staff about renewable forms of energy. The Leader Corp has developed a series of videos for students to share with their families about the need to promote practical energy solutions.  
 
Postlethwait is part of a district-wide energy audit to collect data about energy consumption and cost.  The district will use this data to create a comprehensive energy management plan for Postlethwait that will support “no mow” zones on the campus and the use of more energy efficient LED lightbulbs. Geothermal energy is also being used to run the kitchens, hot water heaters, and back-up generators at schools, and power strips have been installed in the classrooms to make sure electricity is not wasted by “vampire” devices that lose energy on standby mode.  
 
Schools are equipped with low-flow water fixtures to conserve water, and maintenance plans are in place to make sure faucets and fountains are clean and safe for students and staff.  The school’s campus contains an outdoor educational area with a water catchment system to ensure that rainwater is flowing to areas where it can be absorbed and filtered naturally rather than into storm drains.
 
In recent years, Postlethwait has also made a lot of progress with the management of waste.  A district-wide recycling program is in place, and a compost barrel on the campus has allowed for the reduction of waste entering the landfill.  Waste management is also a student endeavor at Postlethwait in the form of trash audits and upcycling. Students are offered a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria, and Postlethwait’s campus also contains food gardens to help students understand where their food comes from with the hope of one day establishing a farm-to-fork collaboration with the school cafeteria. 
 
The Delaware Department of Education will honor the two schools along with a third state finalist, Red Clay Consolidated School District’s Warner Elementary School, at a ceremony later this spring.
Alison May
alison.may@doe.k12.de.us
(302) 735-4006