Two RPS schools named Dept. of Education Green Ribbon Schools Award honorees

Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 6:23 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 29, 2022 at 6:34 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Two Richmond elementary schools were honored by the Department of Education as Green Ribbon Schools for their efforts in sustainability both through education and by implementing sustainable means to lessen their carbon footprint.

John B. Cary Elementary and Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts (PHSSA) were awarded their Green Ribbons on Earth Day. Richmond Public Schools is the only school division in the state of Virginia to receive this year’s award. Both schools were nominated by the Virginia Department of Education.

Less than a mile from the James River, John B. Cary Elementary has been named a “RiverWise School” for achieving environmental education excellence. Its “No Child Left Inside Eco-Campus” has community gardens and a reforestation project with 15,000 square feet of the planted area, including 187 native plants, 53 shrubs, 16 trees and a pollinator garden. They also have composts to use in the gardens.

The grounds are used by students for STEM and art learning during the school day and for gardening, orienteering, biking and running clubs after school.

Cary also uses automatic water and lighting shutoffs, new boilers, chillers, control systems, water bottle filling stations and LED lights to conserve resources.

“Thank you to all of our community partners, staff, and families for joining us on this incredible journey towards environmental stewardship and STEM literacy,” said Michel Powell, principal of John B. Cary. “This is a remarkable team achievement during regular times, but to have accomplished this during a pandemic is a truly outstanding example of the innovation we strive for at John B. Cary.”

PHSSA is a public charter school within the RPS school system and has implemented major renovations in the building like LED lighting, motion detectors, touchless sensors, efficient fixtures, interior storm windows and water bottle filling stations. All the while making a 100-year-old building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and preserving the value of a historic structure.

PHSSA has gardens that serve as outdoor classrooms, along with the adjacent Forest Hill Park. The school’s Rain Garden, completed in 2013, provides water quality improvement for Reedy Creek by filtering stormwater runoff from the paved areas around the school building. Establishing these outdoor spaces has helped make PHSSA a Certified Wildlife Habitat.

“I’m incredibly proud of Cary and PHSSA for earning this prestigious award,” said Superintendent Jason Kamras. “The principals and teachers at these schools have worked hard to make learning come alive for their students by getting them outside and teaching them to take responsibility for the environment. This type of hands-on, experience-based learning is exactly what we’re striving for all across RPS.”

Read more on what these schools have done to earn their Green Ribbons and make their communities more sustainable than before here.

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