Being in the sprawling, smoggy, urban Los Angeles area hasn’t kept Environmental Charter High School from winning an award for green achievement. The high school, located just a stone’s throw from the San Diego Freeway in Lawndale, Calif., was one of the 78 schools nationwide to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a Green Ribbon School.
If you’re not sure what a Green Ribbon High School is, don’t worry. It’s a fairly new concept. The DOE started the Green Ribbon Schools initiative in the 2011-12 school year to recognize public and private schools that are incorporating environmentally friendly actions their schools and lesson plans. Those actions include saving energy and reducing energy costs, providing environmentally sustainable learning spaces and offering environmental education. Environmental Charter was one of three green schools from Southern California honored with the award.
So what made Environmental Charter stand out? Well, for one thing the campus is nothing short of an oasis in the middle of an otherwise urban jungle. The campus features swaths of green landscaping complete with gardens, fruit tress and a stream filled with live fish. But the beauty isn’t just skin deep either. School officials say they use that pristine environment to help promote green learning.
“We maintain a green campus, foster healthy lifestyles and sustainable solutions and use our local environment as a context for learning,” Alison Suffet, founder and executive director of Environmental Charter Schools said in a statment. “We give students a well-rounded education with a strong foundation in core subjects like science and mathematics while equipping them to be advocates and practice civic action as they enhance their college-preparedness.
It seems to be working. The school is not only churning out environmentally minded students, but motivated students as well. According to school officials, more than 90 percent of its students are admitted to four-year colleges and universities each year. “They set off to college with the goal to be the change they want to see in the world,” she said.