The school department has applied to become a Green Ribbon School, which is a federal designation given to districts that are committed to “cost-saving, health-promoting and performance-enhancing sustainability practices.”
According to Ken Duva, superintendent of schools in Jamestown, the application currently is being vetted by the Rhode Island Department of Education. That agency will decide whether it forwards the application to the U.S. Department of Education.
“The Green Ribbon is about connecting students to the environment,” Duva said. “How you educate students about the environment, and how you have systems in place in your buildings for energy-efficiency.”
Solar panels at Melrose and Lawn schools are expected to go online this month. Local students also sponsor a composting program, study an environmental curriculum led by the Conanicut Island Sailing Foundation and take frequent field trips to study coastal habitats in Jamestown.
“They kind of were developed organically,” said Sally Schott, a member of the school committee. “It wasn’t intentional. All of a sudden, it was time to apply for this award, and it was like, ‘Oh gosh, we are so on this.’ It wasn’t that we did these things to get an award.”
Committeewoman Agnes Filkens, who serves on both school improvement teams, credited the students for developing many of the environmentally based programs and initiatives.
“They were really gung-ho on making the schools eco-friendly,” she said.
Recipients of the award are invited to a ceremony in Washington, D.C., to receive a plaque. The recognition as a Green Ribbon School “is not a certification or benchmarking program, although nominees may use an array of other programs to demonstrate their progress toward the award’s three pillars. Instead, it is a one-time recognition of an institution’s progress in the award’s three sustainability focused pillars. For this reason, each early learning center, school, district or postsecondary institution is only eligible to receive the award once.”
— Tim Riel