U. S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, 2012

Kennedy Community School, Saint Joseph, MN

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Kennedy Community School, Saint Joseph, MN

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Schoolyard Habitat

This LEED Gold certified school purchases 96 percent renewable energy, generating the remainder through on-site geothermal production. The school has an energy use tracker website for monitoring consumption, diverts 58 percent of its waste from landfills and has reduced its irrigation and indoor water use by 25 percent. The school van has been converted to run on recycled cooking oil. Kennedy participates in the Safe Routes to School Program, the Healthier School Challenge, and the Farm to School program, and is a recipient of a U.S. Department of Education Carol M. White Physical Education Program grant. Forty of Kennedy’s 72 acres are certified U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Schoolyard Habitats, and include an outdoor classroom and reading garden. Students are designing a walking trail through the restored prairie habitat. Ninety percent of seventh- and eighth-graders score at the proficient level or above on school-wide assessments in environmental and sustainability concepts. A STEM club operates at various levels, with groups facilitated by university professors and students. All staff are trained in recycling by TriCounty Waste Management and the school’s designers on green school features. Most staff also receive U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service training in the prairie habitat. One hundred percent of the school’s sixth- to eighth graders completed a community service project focused on environmental and sustainability topics.

North Shore Community School, Duluth, MN

Hormone-free milk from local dairies and student tapped maple trees

This charter school in rural north Minnesota is a 50 year old facility, yet it received a score of 77 in the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. The school uses washable utensils and trays, and diverts 51 percent of solid waste from landfills through reuse and recycling efforts. Fourth grade students conducted a water audit that led to the installation of a high efficiency hand washing station, reducing water consumption to approximately one quarter of prior daily usage. Ninety percent of campus-generated food waste is composted through a vermiculture system. All of the school’s paper supply is post-consumer material, and all used colored paper is recycled into student-made paper. The school consolidated six and a half bus routes into five, resulting in a significant decrease in mileage. This Farm to School participant serves certified hormone-free milk from local dairies. The school greenhouse supplies up to 20 pounds of mixed greens each year to the cafeteria. Each spring, students tap maple trees on campus to enjoy homemade syrup during breakfast in school. The curriculum includes nutrition at all grade levels, and students participate in a minimum of 170 minutes of physical activity and/or outdoor learning each week. A year-long environmental theme is used as an integrating context for the curriculum and school field trips. Every student attends an additional Environmental Education course once a week, led by the environmental educator on staff. Ninety percent of all staff participate in environmental and sustainability training several times annually. Teachers develop two to three Environment as Integrating Context lessons each month. From raising mealworm beetles in first grade to the science and social studies teachers collaborating on the effects of aerated and non-aerated worm tea, classrooms are geared toward environmental and sustainability concept integration.


Crossroads College Prep, Saint Louis, MO

The only LEED Platinum School in Missouri
At this urban college preparatory school serving nearly 50 percent minority students, you’ll find the only LEED Platinum school building in Missouri. The facility has the largest photovoltaic cell in the region, allowing the school to generate 20 percent of its energy on-site. Crossroads has reduced its energy use by 15 percent, and purchases 18 percent renewable energy. Students learn from composting, a bioretention pond and a native garden that serve as outdoor classrooms. All 2011 graduates went on to enroll in college, with 42 percent of them pursuing a STEM field. Students analyze, clean, and reclaim a local creek. 210 students contributed over 4,000 hours of community service in the Saint Louis metropolitan area by participating in the school’s civic engagement program, which partners with 16 nonprofits that focus on environmental issues. Their service activities included growing organic food, recycling and reusing bikes, restoring native habitats, removing invasive species, and constructing rain gardens. The school partners with the National Audubon Society’s Rivervision program to expose students to river and bird species. All students study LEED building features and 38 percent of students enroll in Advanced Placement environmental science.

The College School, Saint Louis, MO

Finding simple solutions to save energy

The College School found that it could reduce the lighting in each classroom by 33 percent by simply disconnecting one light bulb in each fixture. This was easy, cost nothing, and made students aware of a simple mechanism to reduce energy use, one that is four times more effective than the school’s wind turbine and solar array combined. The school began restoration projects to reduce rainwater runoff with a permeable parking lot, and then installed native plants on campus. The College School then moved to restoring a local park and surrounding areas in cooperation with the community. Students led and partially funded a wind turbine project. All students take environmental issues and ecology courses for a minimum of 160 hours. They tend a greenhouse, a vegetable garden, and learn from a demonstration green roof. Half of the food served is local, and Tuesday’s cafeteria menu features a locally grown soup and salad lunch. Students take part in wilderness adventure outings using Leave No Trace methods. The La Barque Creek Campus is the school’s 28-acre environmental education site located 30 minutes from St. Louis. It provides students with opportunities to learn about and interact with nature in joyful, meaningful and creative ways, and to engage the broader community.

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