Ursuline Academy has been named a Green Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. It is one of two in Delaware to receive the honor.
According to a release from the state department of education, students in the lower school at Ursuline “have benefited from an outdoor classroom in which students use raised beds for vegetables and herbs, design and build birdhouses, compost with worms, graph rainfall, maintain a wildlife edible Christmas tree, and much more.”
The outdoor classroom was certified as a schoolyard habitat by the National Wildlife Federation in 2019.
Students in kindergarten through fifth grade have taken part in the “Wander Wonder” program, in which children are encouraged to wander outside, learn about a certain topic and wonder about future questions. For example, according to the release, fourth-graders created and tested weather vanes at Cool Spring Reservoir to see the difference between local, global and prevailing winds. They then “wondered” about wind turbines and their negative effect on birds and worked together for ideas that could possibly solve that problem.
Each grade has a different topic to “wander and wonder” about. Students in third through sixth grade participated in an “energy expo” in spring 2019 and were able to see how energy works, experience alternative forms of energy and learn about conservation.
“Ursuline has made concerted efforts to ensure that our students have the understandings and habits for a sustainable environmental future,” said Meg Kane-Smith, the Ursuline teacher in charge of the initiative. “I am very proud of our strong energy efforts, our robust recycling program, the number of students who use reusable water bottles through our many water bottle refilling stations, the environmentally-related lessons done by our teachers, the decisions made by our cafeterias for compostable products and nutritional selections, and our recognition as a Schoolyard Habitat and as a partner in the Adopt-a-Wetland program for the Cool Spring Reservoir.”
Odyssey Charter School was the other Delaware school to be recognized. A total of 55 schools received Green Ribbon designation.
All photos are courtesy of Ursuline Academy.