CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) honored two West Virginia schools named U.S. Green Ribbon Schools (USGRS) for their exemplary efforts to make their schools healthier, safer, more cost efficient and sustainable during its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Wednesday.
Cameron Middle High School (CMHS) in Marshall County and Eastwood Elementary School in Monongalia County were among 48 schools and 9 districts across the nation to receive the national award. This national award is part of a larger U.S. Department of Education effort to improve student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates, and work force preparedness, as well as a government-wide aim to increase energy independence and economic security. Schools must first obtain West Virginia Sustainable Schools (WVSS) status prior to becoming a USGRS.
CMHS is the fourth school from Marshall County to apply for the WVSS, and the third one to be recognized as a USGRS Awardee. Unique in their social, cultural, geographical, economic, and academic challenges, CMHS is a rural school with grades seven through twelve and located within the 312-square-mile Marshall County School District. Despite the challenges that rural schools face, CMHS is making the most of its resources and creating a student body — and community — with wise environmental habits. The school implements several sustainable programs that will carry them into the future.
Eastwood Elementary School is Monongalia County Schools' first LEED certification candidate with a daily commitment to its mission of "Growing Healthy Kids in a Healthy World" through a focus on curriculum, health, and wellness; the arts; world languages; and community connections. Staff, students, and families use the school as an instructional tool to learn about their effect on the community and the broader world. In addition, Eastwood uses about 25 percent less energy than a conventional school of the same size and uses over 31 percent less water than a traditional elementary school.
"West Virginia schools are working hard to support healthy school environments and accelerate learning," said Gayle Manchin, president of the WVBE. "Cameron Middle High and Eastwood Elementary schools deserve this recognition for their innovative approach to integrating sustainability practices within the life of the school."
Both the federal and state sustainable school programs recognize schools that exemplify a commitment to sustainable practices in their facilities. They also have worked to integrate those practices into the curriculum and helped build healthy and sustainable communities. All schools must meet rigorous standards in three criteria: environmental and sustainability education; healthy school environments; and environmental impact and energy efficiency of facilities. Educational efforts should incorporate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), civic skills and green career pathways.
"Today's honorees are modeling a comprehensive approach to being green," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "They are demonstrating ways schools can simultaneously cut costs; improve health, performance and equity; and provide an education geared toward the jobs of the future. In fact, the selected districts are saving millions of dollars as a result of their greening efforts. And the great thing is that the resources these honorees are using are available for free to all schools."
For more information, contact the WVDE Office of Communication at 304-558-2699.