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Indiana Department of Education Congratulates Winners Of U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools Award
Updated May 8, 2017 6:53 AM | Filed under: Education
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - The Indiana Department of Education today congratulated the Indiana recipients of the U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools Award. The awarded schools included Burris Laboratory School of Muncie and Bethany Christian Schools in Goshen.

"Preparing children for a bright and active future means teaching lessons both inside and outside the classroom," said Dr. Jennifer McCormick, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction. "Both Burris Laboratory and Bethany Christian have created an atmosphere that stresses the importance of personal and external sustainability through physical wellbeing and environmental care and concern. I personally congratulate these schools for being recipients of this award."

Green Ribbon Schools are recognized for their ability to inspire schools, districts and Institutions of Higher Education by displaying promising practices and resources that all can employ. The award recognizes winners who excel in the areas of reducing environmental impact and costs, improving the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff, and providing an environmental education, incorporating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), civic skills, and green career pathways. Combined progress in all three areas serves as the basis for recognition. In total, 63 schools received the 2017 Green Ribbon Schools Award.

In Indiana

Burris Laboratory School, Muncie, Ind.

A sustainable school gem within Ball State Burris Laboratory School is a kindergarten through twelfth grade school that is located on the campus of Ball State University (BSU) in Muncie, Ind. It is the only school in the Burris Laboratory School Corporation, and has the entire state as its enrollment district. The school has created a committee to lead efforts in reducing environmental impact and costs. Members audit energy usage at the beginning of the year, and then plan and implement various initiatives to improve in areas they identify as areas for growth. Burris, as part of Ball State University, is piloting the Canvas learning management system to reduce a huge amount of paper usage by the school. As a one-to-one iPad school, teachers and students use a file sharing system to transmit, sign, and submit papers electronically. In addition, and funded in part by a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and over $33 million from the Indiana General Assembly, Ball State University's geothermal conversion project has replaced the university's existing coal-fired boilers and chilled water equipment with the nation's largest ground-source geothermal district energy system.

Burris Laboratory School implements IPM policies and uses Green Seal and EPA approved cleaning products, which are considered safer for human building occupants and the environment. Burris developed an indoor air quality management program that includes asthma management strategies. The school has a full-time
school nurse, onsite garden, and participates in a farm to school program.

The physical education teacher leads wellness committee programming, a school fitness club, a walking club, yoga, and other fitness activities. Students and staff on this committee brainstorm and implement healthy activities within the school, and update the school's health policy, which stipulates the amount of activity students receive and the type of food that is served. Activities have included walking to the Ball State Green House and Christy Woods, field trips, annual fishing and hiking trips, Jump Rope for Heart American Association, and the annual owl walk, where students from kindergarten through 12th grade walk alongside Ball State campus and play recreational games. The school offers physical activity breaks during staff meetings, and kindergarten through eighth grade students receive daily physical education classes, health classes, and a guidance class for emotional and social well-being.

The school's science lab provides environmental lessons to all students throughout the year, and also brings in many community partner guests, such as the state Department of Natural Resources, the YMCA, the Downtown Farm Stand, Youth Opportunity Center, and Ball State University faculty. Lessons include water quality and conservation, human effect on the environment, energy education, and sustainability. Partnerships are chosen carefully for scope of influence. For example, students partner with Student Voluntary Services at Ball State and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to clean the White River, as well as areas in southern Indiana after tornado damage in 2012. Middle and high school students visit the White River for water testing and stream velocity as well as hiking and fishing camp. Students in kindergarten through fifth grade go to Christy Woods, Ministrista, and a planetarium.

Bethany Christian Schools, Goshen, Ind.

A 1954 building powered entirely on renewable energy Bethany Christian Schools is a parochial school housing fourth through 12th grades, located on the south side of Goshen, Ind. Since its inception in 1954, care for the environment and community, along with health and wellness, have been key components of the educational programming. Bethany has been recognized locally for its unique and innovative approaches, winning several awards and being covered on a regular basis by local media.

In 2014, Bethany embarked on a capital campaign focusing on three areas: technology, finances, and environment / energy. The third aspect of this campaign made possible the installation of roof insulation and a full-fledged HVAC system in the old portion of the building to improve indoor air quality and heating efficiencies; a geothermal wellfield for operation of the HVAC system; a 3.6-kilowatt wind turbine; and solar panels that can provide 77 kilowatts of electricity. Restrooms were updated with low-flow fixtures, and hallway and parking lot lights were retrofitted with LEDs. Skylights were preserved and enhanced to provide natural lighting. Paper use has been reduced 31 percent, water consumption has been cut 19 percent, energy consumption has been reduced 31 percent, and greenhouse gas emissions have been lowered by 12 percent. The school generates 12 percent of its energy needs on campus with wind and solar, and purchases the rest from wind and solar sources.

Bethany participates in schoolwide recycling, accounting for a diversion of 24 percent of waste from the local landfill. Food scraps from the cafeteria are composted and used in the student-tended school garden, which provides fresh produce for the school's salad bar, as well as providing an educational opportunity for students to learn about gardening and sustainable living. The school's biannual fish fry fundraiser has become an opportunity to educate students and the general public about sustainable practices. Food scraps and paper products are composted, rather than going in the trash. At the most recent fish fry, 12 cubic yards of compostable material was diverted from the landfill.

Environmental and sustainability concepts are taught in multiple courses at all grade levels. In the lower school, students study traditional energy and environment concepts, while taking advantage of a multitude of field trips to local parks and environmental centers. In high school, most students take Environmental Science.

A highlight of this course includes two weeks outdoors studying the plants and organisms in the school retention pond, which was planted with native species in 2006 by students. High school Bible classes also address issues of environmental sustainability. Students study pacifism and its connection to nonviolent environmental activism and stewardship of resources, including stewardship of environmental resources like energy.

During a unit on renewable energy, Environmental Science students host students from the neighboring public elementary school. The Bethany high school students teach the visiting fifth graders about fossil fuels, wind and solar power, and Paper use has been reduced 31 percent, water consumption has been cut 19 percent, energy consumption has been reduced 31 percent, and greenhouse gas emissions have been lowered by 12 percent.

They compare electrical consumption of appliances, design wind turbine blades to compare voltage output, and use mini solar panels to study factors t at affect the amount of energy created. Also led by Bethany students, first graders from another local elementary school come to Bethany to learn about plants and animals in the school's retention pond.

Experiencing the outdoors is an important part of education programming at Bethany. At the beginning of the school year, most students participate in one to two days of activities outdoors. Fourth and fifth grade students go to Camp Mack for a day to study colonial and Native American life. They build primitive shelters in the woods, find and eat wild edibles, and play games applicable to those time periods and cultures. Sixth and seventh grade students spend two days at Amigo Center for their Wilderness Experience, during which time they participate in outdoor education classes including nature games, canoeing and other outdoor cooperative activities.

Eighth grade students have an overnight campout at Camp Friedenswald, learning wilderness survival skills including fire building, shelter building, orienteering, and canoeing. Ninth grade students spend two days at Camp Mack for a retreat, during which time they do a climbing wall, swim, take part in an ecology scavenger hunt, canoe, and cook over fires. Eleventh grade students take a daylong canoe trip on the Elkhart River. Most years the high school offers a course during January term, such as Winter Sports (cross-country skiing, ice skating, downhill skiing) or Bike Camping (bike maintenance and trip planning in January, with a four-day bike camping trip in June). The entire school has taken impromptu all-school recesses on the first warm day in the spring or unusually warm days in early December. Because Bethany is a private school, students must provide their own transportation. The majority of Bethany students carpool, and many bike or walk during the warmer months. Bethany also holds an annual Bike/Walk to School Day, with nearly half of students participating.

For more information on the Green Ribbon Schools Award program, please visit: For a report highlighting all 63 winning schools, please visit:

To learn more about Indiana's participation in the Green Ribbon Schools Award program, please visit:

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