EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – A member of the New York State Board of Regents, Harry Phillips, was a guest at the Anne Hutchinson School in Eastchester to tour the state’s only nominee for the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools program.
Phillips visited Dave O’Neil’s fifth-grade class, where students walked him through a tour of the school’s sustainability garden and walked him through the district’s lauded composting program.
According to the district, “Phillips said he was ‘very impressed,’ with the program and likened it to something one would find in business.”
The Green Ribbon Schools program is a voluntary one that celebrates schools nationwide that are active in the “three pillars” of sustainability: reducing environmental impact, improving the health and wellness of students and faculty and concentrating on environmental education.”
The awards program is the first of its kind to be introduced by the federal government. According to representatives of the State Education Department, the recognition award is part of a U.S. Department of Education effort to "identify and disseminate knowledge about practices proven to result in improved student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates, and workforce preparedness, as well as a government-wide goal to increase energy independence and economic security.”
“To be the only school in the state to receive this recognition only validates Anne Hutchinson’s commitment to working together with students, staff and the community to produce an environment that is energy efficient,” Anne Hutchinson Principal Theresa Cherry said about the nomination.
O’Neil – who received an Earth Day award from the county and was named one of its “top recyclers” – has started various green initiatives at Anne Hutchinson.
The sustainability garden has become a tool for students and teachers both in and out of the classroom, and the compost program has reduced lunchtime waste more than 90 percent, from eight large garbage bags to just half a bag each day.
“The recognition from (Education) Commissioner (John) King is a testament to the ongoing efforts of this school community,” Schools Superintendent Walter Moran said. “Anne Hutchinson students and faculty have exhibited leadership, foresight and a passion in promoting a healthy and sustainable school environment. To be the only school in the state nominated for this national recognition is quite extraordinary.”
The winners of the ED-GRS program will be announced by the U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Earth Day, April 22. Honorees will be invited to the national ceremony.