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It's good to be green!

The U.S. Department of Education on Friday announced the 2024 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, which includes Rowan Elementary School of the Seneca Valley School District. Rowan is one of only three schools on the list from Pennsylvania, in addition to also being the only Pennsylvania elementary public school and the only educational institution representing the western side of the state.

“Receiving the National Green Ribbon School designation is a significant milestone for Rowan Elementary School, and they serve as a wonderful example for those who are working toward environmental excellence,” said Dr. Tracy Vitale, Seneca Valley Superintendent. “Through immersive experiences, innovative projects and community engagement, Rowan is empowering our students to become environmentally conscious citizens. I congratulate them for their hard work and commitment at promoting a healthy, more sustainable future in school and beyond our walls.”

Across the country, 41 schools, 10 districts, three postsecondary institutions, and one early learning center are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and offer effective sustainability education. The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 24 states. 

“This year’s U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools are leading school transformation in states that will help ensure all students in all communities have the opportunity to grow to become strong and healthy learners,” stated U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “This year’s awardees range from early learning centers to postsecondary institutions. Notably, half are located in under-resourced communities. These awards represent thousands of students, and countless hours of hard work in schools and on college campuses, ensuring equitable access to healthy, climate-resilient learning environments where students are prepared for the sustainability challenges of the present and future.”

Rowan Elementary School takes a comprehensive approach to environmental education, consciousness, and sustainability. Established four years ago, the Rowan Green Team has proactively collaborated with the Green Building Alliance, organized professional development, secured grants for garden supplies, and enhanced school aesthetics through biophilic efforts. Environmental themes permeate various clubs like Robotics and STEM, enriching educational experiences beyond traditional classrooms, fostering critical thinking amid environmental challenges. Hydroponics and gardening boxes serve as practical labs, utilizing outdoor spaces like the courtyard for biodiversity lessons. Composting initiatives, championed by educators, serve as educational tools, and student ambassadors promote composting through informative videos. Rowan Elementary also ensures social-emotional learning is integrated into routines and Learn, Explore, Act, Develop (LEAD) lessons, with mental health support services available. Additionally, air quality is addressed through purifiers, fragrance-free policies, and mold monitoring, while infrastructure prioritizes safety and active lifestyles with carefully designed sidewalks and bike routes.

“The staff at Rowan Elementary School are committed to fostering an environmentally sustainable and health-conscious environment by engaging students in recycling, composting and various environmental project-based learning activities,” explained Dr. Tina Wentz, Rowan Elementary School Principal. “I’m incredibly proud of the ongoing teamwork between the staff and students as they work together to cultivate a school culture centered on wellness and environmental responsibility. This award is truly an honor.”

For more information regarding the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, please visit U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools.

Posted: April 29, 2024