From June 3-5, I had the opportunity to attend the National Green Ribbon Ceremony in Washington, D.C. on behalf of Ewa Makai Middle School, a recent recipient of the U.S. Department of Education">Green Ribbon Schools Award. Wow! The ceremony and the ensuing meetings and events were just fantastic! Washington D.C. was the perfect place for these ceremonies where the Green Ribbon Schools were honored by the U.S. Department of Education, led by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
Although the ceremony and the activities were great, the best part of these proceedings was the sharing of best "green practices" by our schools throughout the country. Yes, I am proud of our accomplishments at Ewa Makai Middle School, in Hawaii, but I was so impressed by other schools as well! Like Ewa Makai, schools had organic gardening programs, effective recycling programs, activities that measure and help reduce electrical and water usage, butterfly houses, aquaponics and hydroponinic systems that grew fish and vegetables, "green clubs" that did service oriented activities and curriculum that provided students the opportunity to do service learning with the community.
At Ewa Middle we stood out for having a few unique features, including:
- Tricyles, instead of golf carts, that provided transportation of supplies and equipment to all parts of our campus
- Students who authored a green resolution that was presented to the state legislature and was almost passed by the legislature during the 2012 session
- Students who presented at green conferences to different audiences throughout the state!
What impressed me the most was some of the features other schools had - solar and photovoltaic panels that reduced and produced electricity, major partnerships with other government and private businesses and organizations to help with their green efforts, wind turbines, meters to measure and reduce kilowatts useage in classrooms, a program to eradicate invasive species of plants and insects and so many other innovative activities! The networking was also so special, especially at the Center for Green Schools function at the Newseum, which ad great company and great food too! Since then, I've already started to communicate with other school members from Colorado, New York, Missouri, California and other states too. Hopefully, we will implement some of these wonderful activities into our school.
The other significant part of my trip to Washington D.C. was the sightseeing and visiting the Smithsonian museums, the monuments, and the special places in the city! My favorite part of my visit was the meeting of all four of Hawaii's Congresspeople: Senator Dan Inouye, Senator Daniel Akaka, Representative Mazie Hirono and Representative Colleen Hanabusa. All four congratulated me and Ewa Makai Middle for this National Green Ribbon Schools Award, and all four staff offices were professional and accommodating. But the best part was our discussion that lasted over an hour with a few of them---this was an enlightening and exhilariting experience for me! I especially loved the travel from the Senate houses to the Capitol by way of an underground "tram system" - it made me feel so special. What a great trip.