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PS.29 John Harrigan School in Brooklyn Awarded Eco-Schools USA Green Flag for Exceptional Sustainability Leadership

School is recognized citywide leader in waste reduction and recycling

P.S. 29 John Harrigan School in Brooklyn, NY was recognized with the Green Flag by National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program for conserving natural resources and integrating environmental education into the curriculum. P.S. 29 is the sixth school in New York City, and the 39th in the country, to achieve “Green Flag” status. Eco-Schools USA is designed to raise environmental awareness, reduce school waste and costs, foster student leadership and boost academic achievement.

“We are proud of the example set by the students, teachers, parents, and staff at P.S. 29,” said Emily Fano, New York City outreach manager for NWF’s Eco-Schools USA program. “This award demonstrates P.S. 29’s commitment to sustainability and environmental literacy and places the school among an elite group of schools across the country that are improving their schools by reducing waste, saving energy, greening school grounds, and nurturing student-scientists through hands-on learning.” 
To win the Green Flag, P.S. 29’s students and faculty tackled a host of sustainability initiatives that included forming a Green team comprised of 50 student leaders, and developing action plans for the three Eco-Schools program pathways chosen by the school to qualify for the Green Flag award:

Energy: Implemented the Green Cup Challenge to create awareness around energy conservation at school and at home. Students made signs and reminded teachers to turn off lights and power down electronics; custodians turned off lights in common areas. Teachers integrated energy conservation lessons into science units.
School Grounds: Students assisted in planting, caring for, and harvesting 20 different kinds of vegetables and fruits, as well as many varieties of flowering plants from the school garden. They created a butterfly garden and planted milkweed and mallow to attract bees and butterflies. The garden is regularly used as an outdoor classroom. Students have learned about plant and butterfly lifecycles and the importance of pollination, P.S. 29 is one of 12 schools participating in NYC Eco-Schools’ “Growing a Wild Brooklyn and Queens,” a pollinator recovery and habitat restoration program. The school is also working on plans to create a green roof.
Consumption and Waste: Student Green Team members spoke to their classes and staff about recycling, set up source separation stations in the cafeteria, provided weekly recycling information to the school, and included recycling lessons in the curriculum. All classrooms have student recycling monitors. P.S. 29 is a 2014 citywide and borough-wide Department of Sanitation Golden Apple Award winner, and a GrowNYC Recycling Champion School as a result of having increased its recycling rate by 146%.  P.S. 29’s Go Green! Committee hosts a zero waste spring carnival and community recycling and reuse fundraisers.
“We are so humbled and honored to win the Eco-Schools USA’s Green Flag award,” said P.S. 29 principal Dr. Rebecca Fagin. “This recognition is truly a tribute to the extraordinary effort of our science teacher, Tina Aprea-Reres; building manager, Carlos Hosking; parent volunteer, Rhonda Keyser; and our stellar student Green Team Leaders representing student voice across all grades.  

We are committed to weaving our sustainability efforts into the fabric of who we are at PS 29: in the classroom, the curriculum, and school-wide events. Our student Green Team Leaders have charged our entire community with taking better care of our planet,” Fagin added.

This is the second consecutive year that the NYC DOE Sustainability Initiative has provided NYC Eco-Schools with a $20,000 grant to incentivize NYC public schools to achieve NWF Eco-Schools’ Green Flag award. The NYC Eco-Schools program was launched in 2012 and has grown from 8 to more than 265 schools. NWF staff have introduced the Eco-Schools program to more than 2,500 NYC DOE school Sustainability Coordinators and introduced NWF’s Schoolyard Habitats to hundreds of NYC teachers through workshops at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR), and on P.S. 6’s green rooftop in Manhattan. There are more than two dozen certified Schoolyard Habitats in New York City.

NYC Eco-Schools’ Growing a Wild Brooklyn and Queens program, in partnership with the National Park Service, the Student Conservation Association, and others is working with 12 public schools to restore vital habitat for pollinators at JBWR and through the creation of pollinator-friendly school gardens. NYC Eco-Schools has also provided small grants to almost 50 of its schools since 2012 to implement the program’s Consumption and Waste and Energy Pathways.

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