Four San Diego County schools have been awarded the state's top honor for green schools, and one will go on to compete in the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition program.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced that private school St. James Academy in Solana Beach is one of five Green Achiever-level winners of the 2019 California Green Ribbon School Award, and will go onto the national competition.
St. Martin of Tours Academy in La Mesa received the gold level, Francis Parker in San Diego received the silver level, and Buena Vista Elementary in Carlsbad Unified received a bronze Green Ribbon School award.
A Green Ribbon School demonstrates exemplary achievement in reducing environmental impact and costs; improving the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; providing effective environemental education that effectively incorporates science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, civic skills, and green career pathways.
“These impressive schools are engaging students to be able to act on behalf of their environment," said San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold. "This work supports creativity, critical-thinking skills and environmental literacy for global students."
St. James is a small school governed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego. The school campus includes a green schoolyard with an outdoor teaching classroom and reading area, Native American and colonial teaching gardens, worm composting, a pollinator garden, and monarch conservation, all guided by a master plan.
In 2017, all K–8 students performed an original musical version of Dr. Seuss’s environmental fable The Lorax in the school yard, and that Christmas, the student performers marched in the Encinitas Christmas parade in recycled costumes to promote sustainability.
School officials at St. James also encouraged and mentored a second Catholic school in the Diocese, St. Martin of Tours Academy, to submit a Green Ribbon application.