Dutch Fork Elementary School has become the first in South Carolina to be named a Green Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. 

Dutch Fork Elementary School Academy of Environmental Studies is one of thirty-five schools nationwide selected as the 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools awardees. Green Ribbon Schools are honored for their innovative efforts to address the three pillars of the program: reducing environmental impact and utility costs, improving health and wellness, and ensuring effective sustainability education.

“South Carolina is blessed with an abundance of natural resources,” State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said. “Educating our young people about the environment and how we can work together on conservation efforts is paramount to ensuring future generations can continue to enjoy our state’s beauty. Dutch Fork Elementary has shown what is possible with their innovative curriculum and sustainable practices and will serve as a model for schools across our state for years to come.”

Dutch Fork Elementary School’s Academy of Environmental Sciences is a whole school environmental sciences-themed magnet school in School District Five of Lexington & Richland Counties that serves a diverse population of students. The elementary magnet school uses the environment and nature human interactions as the catalyst for student learning outcomes and critical thinking through a themed continuum entitled “from the mountains to the sea” that explores the South Carolina landscape within a global context.

“We are humbled and grateful to receive this prestigious award and ever appreciative of district leadership for supporting the work of magnet schools,” Principal Julius Scott said. “I would like to express our gratitude to the business partnerships that enhance the real world learning experiences afforded to our small scientists.  Our school really does develop students who care about the world we live, and we are proud to be the first in South Carolina to receive this honor.” 

Dutch Fork Elementary School meets the three pillars of the Green Ribbon Schools program through a conscious use of energy by using efficient lighting and cooling systems and scheduling and participating in water conservation by collecting water in rain buckets for use in its school gardens. DFES has also established a well-rounded approach to nutrition and fitness through its Farm to School program, the creation of a natural trail behind the school, and maintaining a fitness club in the morning for fourth and fifth graders. DFES provides environmental and sustainability education that incorporates STEM, civic skills, and green career pathways for its students. Classes collect and measure plastic bag use, create their own gardens, participate in wildlife observation, research air quality, and have a school based recycling program.

“I want to congratulate this year’s U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School honorees,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “They have truly embraced the challenge to create healthy, safe, sustainable and efficient learning environments for students, faculty, and staff. Their innovative approaches to learning will help students prepare for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st Century.”

For more information on South Carolina’s Green Ribbon Schools program, visit www.scdhec.gov/scgreenribbonschools.  

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