Eden Hall Upper Elementary named Green Ribbon School
Monday, October 7, 2019 | 12:01 AM
A contingent from Eden Hall Upper Elementary School traveled to Washington, D.C., at the end of September to accept an award as a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School, but the work isn’t over.
“This is a great achievement and a great honor for our building and a collective effort of all our faculty and staff, but we don’t stop here,” assistant principal Joseph Domagala said. “Now we think about how do we really take what we have and continue to improve and build upon the next level.”
The Green Ribbon award recognizes schools that reduce environmental impact and costs, improve the health and wellness of students, faculty and staff and provide environmental and sustainability education opportunities. A total of 35 schools and 14 districts were honored this year.
Eden Hall was recognized for everything from its native plants, grasses and trees used in landscaping to the makeup of the building itself to its participation in the PA Healthy Schools Initiative to its partnership with Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus, where students get a wide variety of sustainability education opportunities.
In documenting everything that goes on day-to-day at Eden Hall, Domagala said, they found they had so much material that they had to leave some things out of their application for the award.
At the ceremony, the group from Eden Hall — which also included gifted teachers Jennifer Kopach and Joanna Sovek as well as Dr. Kristen Justus, assistant superintendent for elementary education and curriculum — went on stage to receive a plaque from the deputy secretary of education for Pennsylvania as well as the U.S. assistant secretary of education for elementary and secondary education. They also got to hear why the other award winners were honored and gather ideas for what they might incorporate at Eden Hall, Domagala said.
One program they’re currently working on is the Eco-Schools USA program through the National Wildlife Federation, which is billed as the nation’s largest comprehensive green schools program.
“One we’d like to do is get a full-scale recycling program for the cafeteria, which for some schools may be a somewhat easy process, but at any given time we have approximately 400 students in the cafeteria, so the whole project really requires specific logistics to be in place to make it happen,” Domagala said. “In addition, we want to look at the possibility of introducing gardens to our campus. Really this was the first step, which is a great honor, but we want to take that and move a lot further.”
Eden Hall is the second school in Pine-Richland School District to be named a Green Ribbon School. Wexford Elementary received the honor in 2018.