Berry Elementary receives ‘Green Ribbon Schools’ award

Berry Elementary School received a “Green Ribbon Schools” Award recently from a national program of the same name in recognition of its leadership in touting green initiatives on campus.

 The school was one of only 63 campuses chosen from among 13 states and Guam to win the award, and Berry was selected for achieving the online community’s highest level of participation during the 2011–2012 school year.

A student from Berry ES carries a bag of bird seed to a newly installed feeder on campus. The feeder was part of a project designed to prevent birds from flying into mirrored windows on the school’s northern face.

 The school completed at least four projects related to green building, recycling, conservation, the outdoors, health, nutrition and fitness, including:

 Water Police—Designed to reduce the use of plastic water bottles on campus through an information campaign. Students patrolled the campus looking for people carrying plastic water bottles and issued citations containing facts about why plastic bottles are a poor use of a nonrenewable resource and suggestions for better container choices. Students tracked and recorded their data to see if their efforts were making a difference, and in just eight weeks reduced the number of citations issued by 75 percent.

  • Bird Strikes Investigation—Concerned about the number of birds that were hurt or stunned flying into the school’s windows, first-grade students charted data to track where this phenomenon was happening the most on campus and moved to prevent additional strikes through the strategic application of window decals and the installation of bird houses affixed with suction cups. Students continue to monitor the decals and bird houses to determine their effectiveness in preventing bird strikes.
  • Healthy Snacks for All—This project was sponsored by the Berry ES Parent Teacher Organization, who arranged for healthy snacks such as apples, pears, and oranges to be given to students twice a week just before dismissal. The campaign has shown that students respond positively to healthier options, as evidenced by fewer candy wrappers and soda bottles in trashcans and recycle bins. Since the majority of Berry students are considered to be economically disadvantaged, this is the first time students are regularly eating fresh fruit as snacks. As a result of this exposure to different types of foods, students are now requesting more fruit with their breakfasts and reaching for the fruit plates offered during lunch in the cafeteria.

 “I am very proud of my teachers for integrating authentic, meaningful, problem-solving activities into everyday learning,” said Principal Deborah Silber. “And I am proud of our families for embracing environmental advocacy. That is so important for the future of our students.”

 Green Ribbon Schools is challenging the 648 elementary, middle, and high schools in its 40-state community to create a “Greenprint” for 2012–2013 and become even greater success stories. 

 The national “Green Ribbon Schools” recognition and award program is collaboration among organizations committed to helping children develop their full potential by connecting with the wonders of nature. Sponsors include the AMD Foundation, the Brown Foundation, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas and individual contributors. The program includes the Healthivores® contest to promote healthier lifestyles.