Reading Senior High named Green Ribbon School in recognition of environmental sustainability efforts

The Shapiro Administration today congratulated Rowan Elementary School, Green Woods Charter School, and Reading Senior High School on being named Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) by the U.S. Department of Education in recognition of their environmental sustainability efforts.

“Pennsylvania’s Green Ribbon Schools are leading the way in environmental advocacy and sustainability efforts, and we commend Rowan Elementary School, Green Woods Charter School, and Reading Senior High School on this great honor,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin. “As the current Secretary of Education and former Superintendent of Reading School District, I could not be prouder of the example being set by these innovative, forward-thinking schools in our Commonwealth.”

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“Environmental education and literacy are critical for a sustainable future,” said DEP Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley. “The Green Ribbon Schools Program provides students with the knowledge and skills required for effective environmental stewardship through innovative learning models. We continue to see the benefits of this program in Pennsylvania schools and are proud to support the development of these programs for the future of our environment.”

Nationally, 41 schools, 10 districts, three postsecondary institutions, and one early learning center are being honored this year for efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and offer effective sustainability education. Half of this year’s Green Ribbon Schools are located in underserved communities.

The schools will also receive recognition through the Commonwealth’s Pathways to Green Schools program.

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“A connection to conservation starts young so it’s important that schools show the way with sustainable practices and opportunities for students to learn about being a good steward of their communities, our Commowealth, and the planet,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn.

According to USDE: Reading Senior High School (RHS) in Berks County has reduced its GHG emissions and increased its energy efficiency by replacing boilers, added new doors and windows with improved insulation, and updated its HVAC system to increase energy efficiency to 90%.

To date, RHS has replaced 397 incandescent fixtures with LEDs in the hallways, gym, cafe, and exterior of the school. RHS has improved its water quality, efficiency, and conservation by testing annually for toxins, replacing older toilets with water efficient models, and installing water bottle refill stations. They reduce waste by collecting food scraps and hazardous materials such as light bulbs, batteries, and metals.

RHS teachers and students transformed an interior courtyard into an outdoor classroom with pollinator gardens, raised beds, compost bin, pond, and art murals. RHS offers health and wellness support to students and families by having certified school nurses, social workers, and guidance counselors on staff, and by partnering with outside organizations for substance abuse, mental health, and reproductive health services.

Students engage in STEM activities such as water quality testing, explorations of invasive species, “Trout in the Classroom” (where they raise and release trout in a nearby stream), and they manage the school greenhouse from seed germination to plant sales.

Since 2011, the ED-GRS program has nominated schools, districts, and institutions of higher education across the country for their dedication to reducing environmental impact and cost, improving health and wellness of schools, and providing environmental education to students.

PDE and the U.S. Department of Education select and announce awardees in the spring of each year. Awardees show progress in the following areas: reducing environmental impacts, such as waste, water, greenhouse gases, and transportation; improving health and wellness with consideration to air quality, lighting, thermal comfort, school nutrition, and outdoor physical activity; and offering effective environmental and sustainability education that emphasizes hands-on, real-world learning, civic engagement, STEM connections, and green career preparation.

For more information on U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s website.

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