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Two Virginia Schools Named U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Award honors Dale City Elementary and George P. Mullen Elementary for reducing environmental impact and costs, improving health and wellness, and offering effective sustainability education

Post Date:04/29/2024 9:00 AM
For Immediate Release: April 29, 2024
Contact: communications@doe.virginia.gov
                    Todd.Reid@doe.virginia.gov

RICHMOND – Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons today congratulated Prince William County Schools’ Dale City Elementary in Woodbridge and George P. Mullen Elementary in Manassas as the two Virginia schools named 2024 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools.

“I want to extend congratulations to the students, educators, staff, families, and communities at Dale City Elementary and Mullen Elementary,” said Coons. “The day in and day out efforts these schools make to provide engaging environmental and sustainability education activities and learning opportunities is truly commendable. These are experiences and lessons that will have a lasting impact on these students’ lives.”

The U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools program recognizes environmentally friendly schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions that model its three pillars: reducing environmental impact and cost, improving health and wellness, and offering effective environmental and sustainability education. The Virginia Department of Education nominated the schools earlier this year in recognition of each school’s robust sustainability and environmental efforts and programs.

Dale City Elementary School has four outdoor classrooms, partners with many community organizations to provide environmental and sustainability education programs, and is dedicated to reducing, reusing, and recycling. Guided by a student Green Team that meets weekly, Dale City has built a one-mile nature trail around the school, maintains a Virginia native plant garden, added rain barrels to conserve water, and established a no-mow zone on the school grounds. They also participate in the NexTrex program, which helps to keep plastic film out of the environment and instead made into Trex decking and other products. In school year 2022-23, the school collected and turned in 63 pounds of plastic.

George P. Mullen Elementary School embraces environmental stewardship and ecological responsibility with both staff and students. Students participate in energy and waste audits, and students and staff are committed to waste reduction through food scrap separating. Over a two-year period, over 16 tons of food scraps have been diverted from the landfill and turned into compost. Physical fitness and alternative transportation are also encouraged, with 650 of the 679 students walking or cycling to school. Mullen Elementary features an outdoor classroom; bluebird birdhouse building; the development of a native plant garden; and studies on watersheds and soil, life cycles, and Virginia wildlife.

Across the country, 41 schools are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and offer effective sustainability education. The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 24 states.

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