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students and faculty accepting USDE Green Ribbon Award

The Mackintosh Green Team with USDE officials

Mackintosh Academy in Littleton, Colorado became the first independent school in the state to be named a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award honoree and one of only six nonpublic schools nationally to receive this award. Several students, along with Head of School Diane Dunne and Sustainability Coordinator Alison Becker Weems, traveled to Washington, D.C. to accept the award.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Education Director Louisa Koch, Director of the Campaign for Environmental Literacy James L. Elder, and Director of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council Anisa Heming joined Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Frank Brogan today to congratulate Mackintosh Academy Littleton on their achievements at a ceremony at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C.

Mackintosh Academy Littleton was nominated by the Colorado Department of Education.  The school’s environmental initiatives kicked into high gear in 2014, when six sixth grade students wrote and won a $96,000 grant from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board to bring solar power to the campus. This made Mackintosh Littleton the first majority solar-powered school in Littleton. Since then, the independent school of 115 students, PreK – 8th grade, has fully embraced the challenges of the 21st century to take seriously the responsibility to be good stewards of the environment.

Mackintosh students of all ages design, participate in and lead environmental initiatives. Highlights include:

  • Building a terraced erosion control project modeled on ancient Incan farming practices
  • Creating “Messh Kits” – reusable plates and utensils to replace paper and plastic at community meals
  • Picking up trash and clearing invasive weeds from an adopted neighborhood park
  • Growing organic crops in a hydroponic greenhouse
  • Analyzing real-time and long-term data on energy generated from solar panels
  • Recycling over four tons of glass since 2017
  • Brainstorming new ways to use repurposed materials, such as creating lanyards from used juice pouches

On their trip, the team met with Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, toured American University’s sustainable campus, and visited the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Mini Museum. The entire school community will celebrate the award with an all-school assembly on Friday, September 21. The assembly will feature the premier of a music video featuring the entire student body performing “This is the Greenest School,” a song inspired by the popular movie musical “The Greatest Showman.”

students and faculty outside building with award plaqueMackintosh Academy Head of School Diane Dunne is proud of the community’s achievement. “We are thrilled that some of our students were able to travel with us to receive this award. At Mackintosh Littleton, we follow our students’ lead, and we know that they are setting the vision for our future.” she said.

At the event, 46 schools and six districts were honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education. In addition, six colleges and universities were honored with the Postsecondary Sustainability Award.  Representatives from honored schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions received sustainably crafted plaques in recognition of their achievements.

The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 25 states and the Department of Defense Department of Education Activity. The selectees include 40 public schools, including two magnet schools and two charter schools, as well as six nonpublic schools. Forty-five percent of the 2018 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body.

View the list of all selected schools and districts and summaries of each of the 58 honorees.  More information on the federal recognition award can be found here. Resources for all schools to meet the criteria for the award can be found here.