Colorado schools earn Eco-Schools’ Green Flag award
Douglas County elementary schools receive program’s top honor
Two more Colorado schools have earned the top honor in the Eco-Schools USA program, hosted by the National Wildlife Federation to recognize exceptional achievement in conserving natural resources and integrating environmental education into the curriculum.
Castle Rock Elementary and Heritage Elementary in Highlands Ranch have earned Green Flags, making them just the third and fourth schools in Colorado and among only 29 nationwide to receive the prestigious award. Students, faculty and staff members and parents attended ceremonies May 8 and 14.
All four of Colorado’s Green Flag schools are in the Douglas County School District.
"What impresses me about Eco-Schools USA is the student-driven nature of the program. It is the students who analyze their schools’ sustainability and come up with solutions to save energy and water, cut waste and consumption, and make their school experiences healthier. The students are really inspiring," said Ann Morgan, executive director of NWF’s Rocky Mountain Regional Center.
At Castle Rock Elementary, students have planned and made improvements to a trail, restored wildlife habitat and have built and monitored houses for bluebirds. Other activities are planning and tending a garden, learning about invasive plants, assemblies on saving energy and a "Let’s Scream for Energy" contest in which the most energy-efficient classroom will be treated to an ice cream party.
Heritage Elementary School has cuts its energy use by nearly 30 percent. More students are walking, biking or carpooling to school, amounting to a reduction of nearly 966 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions daily. And 20 percent of the food served at the school is produced locally.
"The Douglas County School District prides itself on providing the best educational opportunities for our students. We actively search for programs like Eco-Schools, as the challenging student-led work creates great opportunities for learning, leading, and impacting the school and community in a positive fashion," said Lee Smit, the district’s sustainability manger. "It is inspiring to hear the pride in our students when talking about their work towards the Eco-Schools awards. The multiple pathways our students and staff can choose from offer a great way to support what each school considers to be most important."
Xcel Energy supported a professional development program for teachers to promote and encourage Douglas County School District staff to register for Eco-Schools.