Washington State's Skyview Junior High Wins Eco-Schools USA Green Flag
Award is seventh in the country, first west of the Mississippi River
Northshore School District’s Skyview Junior High School celebrated the 20th anniversary of its current building this year with an impressive honor: as of today, it is officially among the country’s greenest schools.
Skyview become only the seventh school in the country to win a Green Flag, the highest honor awarded by the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program, at its end of year ceremony, for a commitment to sustainability and environmental education. It is the first school honored west of the Mississippi River.
"It's wonderful to celebrate Washington's first Green Flag Award and the first award west of the Mississippi River," said Courtney Sullivan, Education Manager, NWF's Pacific Regional Center. "NWF first began working with Skyview Junior High with their Schoolyard Habitat Program, which for the past 8 years has transformed the green area between the junior and high schools [into] a trail system where students explore native plants and have access to an outdoor classroom setting. The amazing commitment to the upkeep and expansion is a model for other schools and city parks."
A Legacy of Outdoor Learning
Skyview was recently awarded a WA State Pillar 3 award and nominated for the Department of Education's U.S. Green Ribbon Schools Award for its environmental education and sustainability programs, but this honor serves as a crowning achievement for what may be among the ‘greenest’ schools in the Pacific Northwest.
The school’s signature achievement is its Outdoor Environmental Learning Center, a student-tended, 6.5-acre outdoor classroom and service learning project in which volunteers have devoted thousands of hours of service to create sustainable trails, dig wetlands and remove invasive plants to replace them with native species. Students also perform field studies and conduct green surveys in the center as part of their science curriculum, a strategy that is partly credited for Skyview ‘s Measurement of Student Progress (MSP) scores in science rising by over 10% last year. Building on this, Skyview launched a Naturalist in Training Program this year to help train environmental leaders to mentor other students in their nature studies.
On the efficiency and sustainability front, Skyview is similarly accomplished. The school reports that it has lowered its solid waste footprint (non-recycled) by 80% and boosted its recycling rate and composting rate to over 95% after implementing its waste reduction program. Skyview’s efforts have led to a student body that carpools (nearly 80% of seventh-ninth graders get to school some way other than simply having their parents drive them (e.g. carpool, bike, walk, bus)), saves energy (18% energy usage reduction since 2008), and is highly environmentally informed.
How to Become an Eco-School
Through school-based action teams of students, administrators, educators and community volunteers, Eco-Schools combines effective "green" management of the school grounds, facilities and the curriculum.