Dutch Fork Elementary recognized by U.S. Department of Education as S.C.'s first Green Ribbon School
School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties. Ryan Brown. May 22, 2019.

Columbia, S.C. – The U.S. Department of Education today released the names of thirty-five schools that have been selected as the 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools awardees. Dutch Fork Elementary is the first school in South Carolina to be selected since the Green Ribbon Schools program began in 2011.

"South Carolina is blessed with an abundance of natural resources," said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. "Educating our young people about the environment and how we can work together on conservation efforts is paramount to ensuring future generations can continue to enjoy our state's beauty. Dutch Fork Elementary has shown what is possible with their innovative curriculum and sustainable practices and will serve as a model for schools across our state for years to come."

Green Ribbon Schools are honored for their innovative efforts to address the three “pillars” of the program: reducing environmental impact and utility costs, improving health and wellness, and ensuring effective sustainability education.

Dutch Fork Elementary School's Academy of Environmental Sciences (DFES) is a whole school environmental sciences-themed magnet school in School District Five of Lexington & Richland Counties that serves a diverse population of students. DFES uses the environment and nature-human interactions as the catalyst for student learning outcomes and critical thinking through a themed continuum entitled “from the mountains to the sea” that explores the South Carolina landscape within a global context.

DFES meets the three pillars of the Green Ribbon Schools program through a conscious use of energy by utilizing efficient lighting and cooling systems and scheduling and participating in water conservation by collecting water in rain buckets for use in its school gardens. DFES has also established a well-rounded approach to nutrition and fitness through its Farm to School program, the creation of a natural trail behind the school, and maintaining a fitness club in the morning for fourth and fifth graders. DFES provides environmental and sustainability education that incorporates STEM, civic skills, and green career pathways for its students. Classes collect and measure plastic bag use, create their own gardens, participate in wildlife observation, research air quality, and have a school based recycling program.

For additional information on South Carolina's Green Ribbon Schools program, visit www.scdhec.gov/scgreenribbonschools.

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