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Posted at 01:58 PM ET, 12/05/2011

Green Ribbon award will recognize eco-friendly schools

The federal government has long awarded schools with stellar academic achievement a Blue Ribbon. Now there is another way for schools to shine, with a Green Ribbon for environmental achiev
Sixth-grade teacher Kristen DaCruz helps Garoody Volcy, 12, of Beltsville plant a vegetable in Buck Lodge Middle School’s garden in Adelphi. Students planted vegetable gardens as part of a science-focused summer enrichment program. (Christopher Anderson - The Gazette)

The new award will go to schools with strong environmental curriculum and healthy and sustainable learning environments.

The Maryland Education Department is looking for the greenest schools to nominate for the first round of Green Ribbons.

Is your school outfitted with solar panels and surrounded by gardens that serve as outdoor classrooms? Are the students working on team projects to come up with new ways to limit greenhouse gases? It might be eligible.

“The greatest privilege we have in our short time on this planet is to make the world a better place for the next generation,” said Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D). “We are pleased that our schools will get an opportunity to be nationally recognized for their efforts to create a cleaner, greener and healthier planet.”

Last year, Maryland became the first state to make environmental literacy a graduation requirement. And the state already recognizes “green schools” and “green centers” that promote outdoor learning.

Schools both public and private can apply beginning in mid-December, and the state will select up to four to nominate. The Green Ribbons will be awarded in April.

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