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Shades Mountain Elementary School Selected as a 2023 U.S. Green Ribbon School

April 25, 2023 

Source: U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education announced that Shades Mountain Elementary School (SMES) is among the 2023 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award honorees. 

The Alabama State Department of Education nominated SMES for the U.S. Green Ribbon School award because of the school’s commitment to promoting environmental sustainability education and practices.

The first step for SMES toward the Green Ribbon Award began in 2017 with a "Cool Schools" project, which is part of the National Wildlife Federation's Eco-School USA.  Students inventoried classrooms to discover ways of reducing energy and the school's carbon footprint. Students partnered with Alabama Power to walk through all areas of the school for an energy audit to evaluate energy efficiency.

Other environmental education projects at SMES include:

  • A grant for two (2) Brita water-filling stations. This allowed students to use reusable water bottles rather than plastic water bottles. 
  • Girl Scout Troop 746 recycled markers through the Crayola ColorCycle Program.  
  • The SMES Environmental Club wrote the EcoCode for the school and spearheaded the “Trick or Trash” program. 
  • 4th graders led the annual Arbor Day celebration focusing on the importance of trees on campus. 
  • SMES has an Outdoor Classroom and Butterfly Garden, planted and maintained by various grade levels. 
  • All students participate in STEAM and AMSTI science. 

Principal Kevin Erwin said, “We are so proud to be representing the state of Alabama and Hoover City Schools as a U.S. Green Ribbon School. Our community values the beautiful examples of nature surrounding our school and the teachers of Shades Mountain make sure the students here are exposed to the learning opportunities all around our campus. We certainly realize how blessed that we are to be located in such a wonderful place.”

Across the country, 26 schools, 11 districts, and four postsecondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 18 states.

The list of all selected schools, districts, colleges, and universities, as well as their nomination packages, can be found here. A report with highlights on the 41 honorees can be found here. More information on the federal recognition award can be found here. Resources for all schools to move toward the three Pillars can be found here