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U.S. Department of Education Continues Green Strides Tour in Sandhills

Continuing their tour of the Tar Heel State to highlight schools that teach and model sustainability, representatives from the U.S. Department of Education and N.C. Department of Public Instruction traveled Wednesday to the Sandhills region to visit three past Green Ribbon award winners in Hoke and Cumberland counties. 

Wednesday’s tour kicked off at Hoke County’s Sandy Grove Middle School, led by Principal Tommy Jacob. A 2016 Green Ribbon honoree, Sandy Gove is an LEED Platinum school that generates more energy than it consumes. Notable innovative design and construction features include photovoltaic and geothermal heating and cooling systems, LED lighting, continuous air barrier, and whole-building control of each building system through a singular automation system. 

During the tour, guests visited stations where they heard about the building’s unique design and construction, had an opportunity to see the energy-conserving and use efforts at the school, learned about the interactive energy dashboard where energy use and savings are tracked daily, and visited an eighth-grade science classroom where students learned more about energy conservation.   

NCDPI and Education Department staff continued their day in Cumberland County, beginning with Douglas Byrd High School, led by Principal Dr. Zoletta Taylor. Guided by students from the school’s Academy of Green Technology, guests began their visit in the arboretum and discussed a student-led LED lights study with the Operations Team. Guests learned about Douglas Byrd’s “Living A Great Story Wall,” which is where students showcase their AoGT work, and had a chance to assemble solar and wind turbine kits. AoGT students also demonstrated how they use drones to check solar panels. The tour wrapped up with AoGT students and culinary arts students sharing about their community and culinary arts collaboration through their farm-to-table outreach program. 

Wednesday’s visit concluded at Walker-Spivey Elementary School, a 2020 Green Ribbon award winner, which is led by Principal Rachael Robinson. Guided by fourth and fifth grade Green Team students, guests began their visit with a presentation discussing Walker-Spivey’s Green School journey. Students discussed “Our Journey – WSES Go Green” and led guests to the outdoor garden and greenhouse to see science in action by planting kale and harvesting potatoes. 

With the support of the Old Wilmington Group and the non-profit Sprouts for Joy, Walker-Spivey students have been provided with take-home fall harvest plants, garden materials, and STEM resources that have extended student learning outside the classroom. The tour culminated in the gymnasium where students demonstrated how they sort paper and plastic materials accumulated by the school. 

After two days of school visits, the Green Strides visit will conclude Thursday in the state’s Southeast region. 

More information on the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools can be found here. The list of all selected schools, districts, colleges, and universities, as well as their nomination packages, can be accessed here. To review a report featuring highlights on honorees, click here.  

Additional information on the federal recognition award can be found here


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