Learning Gate Community School in Lutz received national recognition Monday when it was named a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, along with White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, made the announcement during a visit to Stoddert Elementary School, one of two honorees in the Washington, D.C., area.
Florida is among 29 states and the District of Columbia with schools receiving the first-ever awards. A total of 78 schools nationwide were selected.
“It is an honor to be recognized as a Green Ribbon School,” Learning Gate CEO Patti Girard said in a press release. “For the U.S. Department of Education to acknowledge schools for teaching and practicing environmental sustainability gives all of us hope for a healthier and greener planet for future generations.”
Learning Gate serves children from Lutz, Land O' Lakes, New Tampa, Carrollwood, Westchase, Temple Terrace and beyond, according to school officials.
U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools is a federal recognition program that began in September 2011. It recognizes schools that "save energy, reduce costs, feature environmentally sustainable learning spaces, protect health, foster wellness, and offer environmental education to boost academic achievement and community engagement," according to the Deartment of Education website.
"Every single child should have a clean and healthy place to learn," Jackson said during .
Collaboration among agencies through the Green Ribbon program will ensure that goal, she added.
According to Duncan, winning schools were chosen based on a spectrum of qualifications, including impact of environment on student achievement, cost reduction, student engagement and benefits to the community.
The selected schools were a "win, win, win, win in every category," Duncan said.
Next year's competition will open in summer 2012. State agencies are encouraged to send their intents to submit nominees by June 15 via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.