Lincroft Catholic school awarded Green Ribbon designation


By Lois Rogers | Correspondent

Students and faculty in St. Leo the Great School, Lincroft, have been employing measures to address environmental issues in their school. Here they build their own replica wind turbines. Courtesy photos

A Blue Ribbon elementary school of the Diocese has won a prestigious Green Ribbon designation from the state… and they are tickled pink about it!

St. Leo the Great School, Lincroft, has been selected as a 2019 New Jersey Green Ribbon School by the Environmental Awareness and Sustainability Recognition Program administered by the U.S. Department of Education, and nominated for designation as a National U.S. Department of Education 2019 Green Ribbon School, announced the school’s principal, Cornelius Begley. 

According to the Green Ribbon School website, the aim of the program is to inspire students, staff and administrators to strive for 21st century excellence by highlighting promising practices and resources that all can employ. Outdoor, environmental and sustainability education helps all students engage in hands-on, authentic learning, hone critical thinking and collaboration skills, stay active and fit and develop a solid foundation in many disciplines.

Julia Casciano, who teaches STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) skills in the classroom and science club at the Lincroft school, described how students researched and built replica wind turbines and started a new composting site on the grounds. Cafeteria scraps are recycled into the soil, into which will be planted sunflowers, vegetables and herbs. “They are very up on things to do to help the earth,” Casciano said. “They have loved to do anything that’s hands-on and have learned so much.”

“To not only achieve academic success but to be good citizens of the environment is a natural progression as we incorporate STEAM curriculum in our school,” Begley said. “Investigating the science behind environmental issues prepares students to be the next generation of global citizens. One of our goals at St. Leo’s is to engage our students in real-world learning that inspires them to be stewards of our environment.”

The Green Ribbon award’s 17-page application focused upon three major criteria, or pillars, explained Richard Romero, director of operations for the Lincroft school. Thirty percent of the score is earned by reducing the environmental impact and costs of the school; another 30 percent by improving the health and wellness of students and staff, and 35 percent by providing effective environmental and sustainability education, incorporating STEM, civic skills and Green Career Pathways. The remaining five percent of the score comes from the school’s response to a subjective, cross-cutting question.

“There was no one single project, program or process that earns a Green Ribbon,” Romero observed. “The application process requires a multitude of very strict, diverse criteria that assures environmental awareness, education and environmental stewardship is woven throughout the organization.”

He added, “St. Leo’s is the first non-public Catholic school ever to earn the recognition since the Green Ribbon awards program began in 2012, [and] only 20 New Jersey schools have been selected in total. St. Leo’s earned this recognition on its first attempt.”

Schools submit applications to their state for judging, and statewide winners are announced in the spring. Begley and Romero received the winning plaque on behalf of St. Leo the Great School at the N.J. School Buildings and Grounds Association meeting March 12 in Atlantic City. State entries are forwarded to the U.S. Department of Education, which announces nationwide winners in June. A ceremony for all national winners will be held in Washington in September.

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