Savannah-Chatham County Public School System

Gadsden Elementary School Recognized as a 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School

Published on: 5/22/2019

The U.S. Department of Education today released the names of the 2019 National Green Ribbon Schools. Gadsden Elementary School is the second SCCPSS school to be honored with the designation.  Godley Station K8 was the first in 2018.  Gadsden Elementary is being recognized for teaching conscientious environmental preservation with energy-saving strategies.

A list of highlights provided by the Department of Education about the winners, commends Robert W. Gadsden Elementary School for exemplifying the concepts and ideas of conscientious environmental preservation and sustainability.  Gadsden Elementary was opened in 1955 and rebuilt in 2012.  When the facility was rebuilt, a second floor was included in the design to reclaim more than an acre of green space.  This resulted in a new athletic field and space for a 6,400-square-foot, 30-kilowatt photovoltaic system.  The photovoltaic system is expected to lower energy costs by 5 percent and avoid production of more than two tons of carbon dioxide every month. 

The school has one of the lowest utility costs per square foot in the district at 76 cents and has achieved a 38 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.  A variety of energy-saving strategies have included the incorporation of energy-management performance guidelines and automated temperature-control systems; the integration of occupancy sensors; the scheduled replacement of conventional lighting with LED; the development of efficient student transportation; and the introduction of recycling. 

Students are an active part of the environmentally friendly efforts.  Over two tons of waste were recycled in one school year by the recycling club, run by third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders.  The cafeteria transitioned from Styrofoam trays and bowls to paper trays which are made of 20 percent recycled pulp and 80 percent paperboard, manufactured from wood pulp grown in the U.S. from certified forests.  The school also reduced water use by 13 percent in the past year, and three water-bottle filling stations were installed which is expected to eliminate over 3,000 plastic bottles. 

Physical Fitness efforts have also increased for both students and staff through a variety of programs.  In addition, the school has partnered with community organizations to grow garden produce and students have the opportunity to explore various career pathways related to agriculture and farming not often presented to students from urban communities. 

“This award acknowledges Gadsden’s commitment to sustainable practices,” says SCCPSS Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett. ”We commend Gadsden’s principal Dr. Renee Bryant-Evans, school staff, students, and families, Deputy Superintendent and Chief Operations Officer Mrs. Vanessa Miller-Kaigler, and Executive Director of Maintenance and Operations Mr. Arnold Jackson for their leadership in facilities, health, and environmental education.  The work done by Gadsden is representative of promising practices to improve achievement and equity, not only for aspiring green schools, but for all schools.” 

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