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California schools vie for national green awards

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Four California schools (including two from Manhattan Beach) have been nominated for the new federal Green Ribbon Schools Program.

Grand View Elementary and Environmental Charter High are the Manhattan Beach representatives; private Danville institution the Athenian and Longfellow Elementary in Long Beach round out the four California finalists chosen by Tom Torlakson, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The U.S. Department of Education rolled out this new program last September after collaborating with various state agencies. The award criteria is to “focus on measurable outcomes wherever possible, and based on a comprehensive approach incorporating environmental learning with maximizing positive environmental and health impacts,” according to a department press release.

"Our state has always been a leader in environmental protection, and these four schools are proof positive that California's schools are still leading the way," Torlakson said in the release. "As a science teacher, it is heartening to see how these schools are weaving sound environmental practices into the lessons in their classrooms and the daily life of their campuses.”

Each school has displayed an extreme commitment to sustainability. Environmental Charter High is known as a “living campus” for the wide variety of produced raised there, while Longfellow Elementary has reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 34 percent. Grand View Elementary has reduced their lunch trash from 40 bags to just two, and the Athenian School gets 65 percent of their electricity from solar panels. These are just a few of the practices that earned each school its nomination. Awards are to be announced on Earth Day, which falls on April 22 this year.

"We are extremely proud of our schools," Torlakson added, "and are hopeful that all nominees will be awarded so they will be able to serve as models to emulate around the nation."