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State College Friends School Receives Green Ribbon Award from U.S. Department of Education

on June 13, 2019 5:00 AM

State College Friends School has been named one of 35 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for 2019.

Friends School was recognized as a community that explores social justice and environmental sustainability the Quaker way, according to a press release.

The award honors educational institutions for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness and ensure effective sustainability education. This year's honorees include 25 public and 10 nonpublic schools, as well as 14 districts and four postsecondary institutions chosen from a pool of candidates nominated by 28 states.

While the award application included more than 20 illustrations of ways in which Friends School participates in stewardship and environmental sustainability, such as use of solar panels and all-school recycling, several highlights were acknowledged:

- In 2018 the school received the prestigious Centre County Emerald award from the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority for being a “Green Business Partner.”

- Classrooms use composting bins to collect food waste that is added to an outdoor compost container. This rich organic waste is used in the student gardens to produce vegetables used in school cooking.

- In addition to several daily periods of outdoor play, students and teachers participate in a Monday morning all-school/all-weather walk to stimulate deep breathing, aerobic response and enjoyment of nature.

- Faculty members participate in ongoing train-the-trainer professional development programs including Project Learning Tree, Project WILD, Project WET, Healthy Water/Healthy People and Agriculture in the Classroom. Teachers also place an emphasis on STEM in their hands-on curriculum in all grades, pre-K through eighth grade.

“As a school deeply steeped in the Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship, we learn the basics of caring for ourselves so that we may care for others, our material possessions, our school and community and the environment,” said Donnan Stoicovy, head of school. “As we practice these skills as a school community and continue to learn about the impact of our actions, we become more impassioned and dedicated to care for the earth.”

D. Wayne Bender, director for the Hardwood Development Council of the PA Department of Agriculture, said, “After a one day visit to this school this spring I know this is a well deserved honor.”

Students had an opportunity to participate in an interactive program with Bender earlier this year when he visited the school with the PA Woodmobile, sponsored by the PA Hardwoods Council. They learned about soft and hard woods, sustainable use of native trees and the challenges of managing invasive species and insects.

Park Forest Elementary is the only other Centre County school to be named a Green Ribbon school, receiving the award in 2016. Stoicovy was principal of PFE at the time it received the honor.

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