Bay Farm wins prestigious Ribbon Award

By staff writer Brenden Dalipe

Friday, April 22nd was Earth Day; Earth Day, 2016 is also the day Bay Farm School was named a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School and a 2016 California Green Ribbon School. Bay Farm School was the only public school in California nominated this year.

According to the federal press release, “This award acknowledges your school’s commitment to sustainable practices. The areas encompassed by the award include reduced environmental impact and costs, with energy, waste, water, and transportation measures; improved health and wellness, including nutrition, outdoors physical activity, and environmental health efforts; and effective environmental and sustainability education, which features hands-on, authentic, place-based learning and green career pathways.”

Around all of U.S., there were 47 schools (including Bay Farm), 15 school districts, and 11 postsecondary institutions honored. These will only win this prestigious award once.

Bay Farm Principal Mrs. Babs Freitas and second-grade teacher/Alameda Green Schools Challenge faculty coordinator Mrs. Michele Kuttner will be heading to Washington D.C. in the month of July in order to accept the award.

When Mrs. Kuttner learned about becoming a National Green Ribbon School, she said, “It makes me very proud to see how an effort to increase recycling and build a garden has become our school culture. Our entire school community works to prove that a school can increase in size and population and reduce the size of its carbon footprint. The hard work of our staff, students and parents will continue, but this is really something to celebrate!”

In February, the California State Superintendent of Education, Tom Torlakson, paid a visit to Bay Farm School to tell all the staff and students that the school had won the state award. He and representatives from other state winners toured Bay Farm while students put on presentations on our garden program, mulching, zero-waste efforts, paperless efforts and more.

This was Bay Farm’s first attempt at getting the Green Ribbon Award, and the school earned the highest level, “Green Achiever”, on its first try! Often it takes at least five or more attempts for other schools to even be nominated for this honor, but Bay Farm did it on its first try, according to Mrs. Kuttner.

This was most likely because over the course of one school year, Bay Farm School’s “good stuff” (compostables, recyclables) -in-the-landfill rate, from October to May, went from 65% to 11%.

The Dolphin Tail asked Mrs. Kuttner (also known as the Queen of Compost) about her opinion on what it was like after being nominated and becoming a Green Ribbon School. She said, “I feel like it was a dream come true.”

We also asked Saima Hassan, a 6th Grader in Mrs. Reynolds’ class and an ambassador for a presentation for people like Tom Torlakson by StopWaste, why she wanted to present. She said, “I thought it was fun to do and liked the word ‘ambassador’.”

Bay Farm may never see a day that celebrates our green efforts like April 22, 2016 again, but remember: Everyday is Earth Day at Bay Farm!

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