River Trails Middle School Earns Federal Green Ribbon Award

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River Trails Middle School Earns Federal Green Ribbon Award
Posted on 04/22/2015
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Illinois School Earns Federal Green Ribbon Award
U.S. Department of Education recognizes a Mt. Prospect school for environmental and wellness initiatives 

SPRINGFIELD – A Mount Prospect Middle School earned federal recognition today under a program that celebrates schools’ efforts to cut utility costs, develop healthy living practices and offer environmental education.  River Trails Middle School is among 58 schools, 14 districts and nine colleges and universities to garner the U.S. Department of Education’s 2015 ED-Green Ribbon Schools Award.

 “On behalf of the our Board, I congratulate the students and staff at River Trails for finding ways to incorporate healthy habits into all aspects of learning and living,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “This school’s commitment to living green cuts costs and improves health and well-being but, most importantly, teaches students how to carry such practices into the future.”

Teachers at the middle school in River Trails School District 26 have participated in a wide range of professional development opportunities to implement approaches and curricula that meet environmental standards aligned with the new Illinois Learning Standards in Science. 

“The timing of this recognition is significant as we celebrate Earth Day today and reach out to our neighbors in need,” said Keir Rogers, principal at River Trails Middle School. “The Green Ribbon Award highlights our effort to be a healthy learning environment and we look forward to increasing our responsibility to the global community.”

The Mount Prospect middle school is promoting an Earth Day initiative in which students agree to "unplug" their smart phones for 24 hours. Students will also be encouraged to make a donation to support families in nearby Rochelle, Illinois who are dealing with the aftermath of the recent tornado.

“The idea is to widen our scope and think about others,” Principal Rogers said. “Sometimes we need to limit our distractions and reflect on our priorities to help others in need.” 

All River Trails students explore sustainability of the environment through a curriculum unit called Energy and the Environment. Students are challenged to think globally as they explore solutions to energy needs and investigate the impact of energy on daily life and the world. They design and demonstrate alternative energy sources and evaluate options for reducing energy consumption.

Physical education is also a priority for students at the middle school and throughout River Trails School District 26. A committee that includes teachers, administrators, food service personnel, school board members, parents and two students meets regularly to review the district’s wellness policy and discuss ways it can be improved. The school’s commitment to improving student and staff health has led to a number of changes:

  • Increased physical activity.
  • Healthier celebrations and snacks. Only fruit, vegetables and hard cheese are served during district and school celebrations and snack time.
  • Increased staff participation in wellness screenings.

Across the country, the schools, districts and postsecondary institutions were confirmed from a pool of candidates nominated by 30 state education agencies, with honorees selected from 28 jurisdictions. The list of 81 selectees includes 52 public schools and six private schools. The public schools include two charter and three magnet schools. The schools serve various grade levels, including 35 elementary, 19 middle and 17 high schools. Forty-seven percent of the 2015 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body, 22 percent are rural, and one-third of the postsecondary institutions are community colleges. 

The schools reflect the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools’ three pillars: reduced environmental impact, improved health and wellness, and environmental literacy.

River Trails and the other winning green schools will be recognized Wednesday, June 3, in Washington, D.C. Events that day will include an evening reception hosted by the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council on Capitol Hill. 

River Trails Middle School is the only school in Illinois to win the federal award.