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Bonneville Elementary, Wasatch Academy honored as Green Ribbon Schools

Program recognizes schools’ efforts to reduce environmental impact, improve health and wellness, and offer effective sustainability education

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SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City School District’s Bonneville Elementary School and Wasatch Academy, a private school in Mount Pleasant, have been named U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools.

The Utah schools are among 39 schools, 11 districts and five postsecondary institutions nationally honored for efforts to address the three pillars of the program: reducing environmental impact and utility costs, improving health and wellness, and ensuring effective sustainability education.

“I want to congratulate this year’s U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School honorees for a job well done,” said Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a statement.

“During this unprecedented time, it’s a pleasure to celebrate these bright spots of creativity and to applaud the teachers and local education leaders who have worked to create healthy, sustainable and innovative learning environments for their students.”

According to the Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools website, Bonneville Elementary School “is committed to advancing sustainability and student health, going above and beyond to engage students with real-world, meaningful experiences.”

The school has earned an Energy Star certification and its energy usage is the lowest in Salt Lake City School District. The school and district regularly track water usage of the building and grounds.

“Bonneville has two areas dedicated to ecological purposes. The front area of the school has been planted with local, water-wise plants that attract pollinators. The school has partnered with Wasatch Community Gardens to maintain a produce garden. All grades work with the science teacher and PTA to plant and maintain the garden year-round. Produce is collected by the community and some produce is sold at an annual, community STEAM night,” the website states.

The website notes Bonneville partners with Green Fiber for paper and cardboard recycling. All classrooms and common spaces have recycling bins, and the community is encouraged to bring their paper/cardboard recycling to Bonneville, which hosts an annual recycling drive to encourage paper recycling. In 2019, the community gathered 2,200 pounds of paper recycling, while parents from the PTA volunteer to teach and reinforce recycling in the cafeteria.

Wasatch Academy, a boarding school that serves students grades eight-12, was recognized for its longtime commitment to working toward a sustainable future.

“At the core of this commitment was a net-zero energy action plan and related project-based learning opportunities for students and teachers. This initiative is a multi-year plan for reducing Wasatch’s carbon footprint through energy and water conservation, a shift to renewable energy sources, and community-based projects in waste management, permaculture-based landscaping and sustainability education,” the Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools website states.

The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 27 states. The selectees include 28 public schools — among them, three magnet schools and four charter schools — as well as 11 nonpublic schools. Forty-five percent of the 2020 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body.