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Wexford Named U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School
Wexford Elementary School was named a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School. The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon. This distinction acknowledges Wexford's commitment to sustainable practices and its leadership in facilities, health, and environmental education.
“This was an initiative that was sparked by our students, staff, and faculty,” said Principal Rick Walsh. “Our students wanted to make sure our building was recycling. Our faculty members encouraged us to put in a garden to enhance the science curriculum and our community members really helped us embrace a wellness initiative that included a health fair and 5K race.
Dr. Walsh said the initiative did not start specifically at the building level, but at the district level in which the district helped install LED lighting to help reduce kilowatt usage, no idling signs and propane buses within its fleet.
“This is extremely special,” said Dr. Walsh. “The U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School acknowledges a collective effort of all of our stakeholders to make Wexford Elementary School a more sustainable and innovative building.
The announcement was shared with students and staff at 1:50 p.m. at Wexford Elementary School, where students wore green for Pine-Richland and for being named a 2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School. Students participated in various classroom activities focused on environmental topics.
In addition, school representatives will be invited to participate in a ceremony on September 19, 2018, in Washington, DC.
“Recognition as a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School is the result of hard work by the entire Wexford community,” said Dr. Brian Miller, Pine-Richland School District superintendent. “Sustainability requires individual action and a shared focus. We are proud of the students, staff, and parents. It is also important to recognize Mr. Gary Zang, Director of Facilities, for his leadership.”
In addition to Mr. Zang, and Nurse Mary Beth Chips, appreciation goes to the Wexford Green Ribbon School Committee, under the direction of Dr. Walsh, which consisted of teachers Joanna Firmin and Tara Hillegas, who helped write the application and lead the garden initiative; Custodian Jerry Glevicky, who helped build raised garden beds; parent Kristi Wees, who led the Wexford School Wellness Committee; the WPTO, who supported the Healthy School initiatives and assemblies; and Michelle Buford who works with Healthy Schools PA and helped provide a framework, benchmarks and progress monitoring of the school’s initiatives since 2015.
To earn the distinction, Wexford Elementary demonstrated progress toward goals in the three of the US Department of Education Green Ribbon School pillars and include: reducing environmental impact and energy efficiency; having a positive on the health and performance of students and staff; and exhibiting effective environmental and sustainability education.
Across the country, 46 schools, six districts, and six post-secondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. Across PA, Wexford is one of only two schools recognized in 2018.
The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 25 states and the Department of Defense Department of Education Activity, which include 40 public schools, including two magnet schools and two charter schools, as well as six nonpublic schools. Forty-five percent of the 2018 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body.
A report with highlights on the 58 honorees can be found here. More information on the federal recognition award can be found here. Resources for all schools to move toward the three Pillars can be found here.
Wexford Elementary School was named a National Blue Ribbon School for 2014 based on its overall academic excellence.