The end of the school year is quickly approaching, and as schools wrap things up before summer, many around the country are being recognized for their academic efforts. Some receive Blue Ribbon status, while two schools around Michigan have been honored for their environmental impacts after being awarded the Green Ribbon status.


Someone holding a fresh plant in their hand.
Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash


Green Ribbon Award

According to a press release by the U.S. Department of Education, 41 schools, 10 districts, three postsecondary institutions, and one early learning center around the country were honored for their "innovation efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and offer effective sustainability education." Interestingly, half the honorees were in underserved communities.


Hands in a garden.
Photo by Sandie Clarke on Unsplash

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Michigan Schools Honored

The two schools honored in Michigan are Hayes Elementary in Westland and the West Side Christian School in Grand Rapids. Each school's environmental efforts were highlighted in the U.S. Department of Education's 2024 Honorees report.


Photos of Hayes Elementary and West Side Christian School
Google Maps


Among other programs, Hayes Elementary School started a successful letter-writing campaign to discontinue plastic straws and polystyrene in their school district, conducted a study that resulted in the school reducing overall food waste, distributed milkweed seeds to all students, installed a pollinator garden, and made upgrades to the school building to be more eco-friendly.


Bumblebee on a plant.
Photo by Carolien van Oijen on Unsplash


Besides having a host of eco-friendly appliances throughout the school, West Side Christian School has a dedicated Green Team that leads recycling and litter cleanups. The school eliminated over 17,500 styrofoam trays and has installed a school garden that students help maintain. Produce from the garden is used in school lunches. The campus also has an outdoor classroom that students can utilize to see what they are learning about in live action.


Photo by Megan Thomas on Unsplash
Photo by Megan Thomas on Unsplash


The award will be presented during a presentation in Washington DC, but unfortunately does not come with any federal funding.


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