Lowell and Mark Twain Elementary Schools Earn National Green Ribbon Award

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Mark Twain and Lowell Elementary Schools were honored as Green Ribbon Schools by the United States Department of Education this week for their efforts to reduce environmental impact, improve the health of students and staff and providing effective sustainable education.

U.S. Secretary of Education Ame Duncan and acting Chair of the White House Council on Environmental quality Mike Boots announced the 2014 Green Ribbon Schools Tuesday. In total, 48 schools and nine school districts were honored nationwide.

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Twain and Lowell were two of four California schools to receive the award along with San Domenico School in Marin Country and the Encinitas Union School District which was honored in the District Sustainability category. Lowell and Twain were the only individual public schools nominated statewide.

"What they have in common is a clear and compelling vision, outstanding teamwork and extraordinary leadership," Duncan said of the honorees. "They demonstrate a real commitment to serving students with the most exceptional, healthy and sustainable learning environments and instruction you can find anywhere.Thank you so much for the difference you make in the lives of your students and the example you set for all of us.”

Lowell implements a program named the Learning Garden which every child participates in for a total of 8,000 instructional hours annually. The program that started in 2006,teaches students the connections between healthy dietary choices, a vibrant community and vibrant community and environmental responsibilities. Students at Lowell redirect more than 28,000 gallons of recyclable classroom materials from ending up in a landfill. They encourage exercise, estimating that 55 percent of students walk or bike to school and promote car free fridays, saving an estimated 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a week.

Twain earns about $2,500 in annual recycling income through its monthly “Bottles and Cans” day according to the Long Beach Unified School District. It’s also a American Heart Association Teaching Gardens School, teaching students the importance of nutrition with a hands on approach. Children learn how to plan seeds, nurture growing plants, harvest produce and understand the value of good eating habits according to the AHA’s website.

Both schools are also Energy Star-certified facilities, having met strict performance standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency, and use less energy, are less expensive to operate and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than other schools.

LBUSD has a history of its schools earning the prestigious Green Ribbon title. In 2013, Hughes Middle School was honored as a Green Ribbon School and in 2012, Longfellow Elementary received the award.

“This award represents the core and foundation of what makes Lowell a very special place for students, teachers, staff, families and our community,” Lowell Principal Sam Platis said about being honored by the USDE.  “A special thanks goes out to all of our teachers, school district staff, our PTA and our multiple award-winning Green Team, who have collaborated closely over the course of many years to make this accolade possible.  Our school, community and planet are a better place because of all of you.”

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