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April 12, 2013

High school seeks federal ‘green’ designation

MANCHESTER — After a long application process, Manchester Essex Regional High School has been nominated as the lone public school from Massachusetts to be reviewed for the Green Ribbon Schools award by the federal Department of Education.

The U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition award honors schools that are exemplary in reducing environmental impact and costs, improving the health and wellness of students and staff, and providing effective environmental and sustainability education, according Eric Magers, director of the school’s Green Team.

Before reaching this point, two Green Scholars — junior Brittany Smith and senior Kevin Cellucci — aided by several teachers, compiled a 23-page application for the award portraying why the school deserves the recognition.

Smith said the application process consisted of answering questions regarding the school’s green aspects and Green Team program.

“I’m so happy we got selected for the federal level selection,” Smith said. “It made the 12-week application process worth it.”

The Green Team has achieved numerous successes by giving students real world experiences in the Green Scholars program. For example, junior Jake Tyler has undertaken the yearlong project to promote sustainability by lowering the school’s carbon footprint. If he succeeds, he could save Essex and Manchester taxpayers $17,000.

Receiving this award would increase the district-wide recognition of the school’s Green Team program, Magers said.

Additionally, agencies such as Green Schools, Alliance for Climate Education, Green Education Foundation, the state Department of Environmental Protection and Mass Recycle have informally recognized the school as the greenest in the state.

“There is no formal recognition, but if there were one, we would have it,” Magers said.

The award poses many indirect benefits for the program as well.

“Perhaps the greatest benefit from this award will be that we may be able to increase the amount of grant money we receive in the future as foundations will recognize our school’s commitment to sustainability,” said Cellucci, president of the Green Team.

“ It is incredible to finally be recognized for all of our hard work and it really makes me feel as though I am making a difference in my community,” Cellucci said. “Hopefully after I leave Manchester next year, our school will continue to lead the country in environmental stewardship.”

Rachel Daley is a Manchester Essex Regional High School student and editor of the school’s newspaper, The Independent.

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