Alder Avenue Middle School to be honored for environmental excellence

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Nikki Djokovich/Alder Avenue Middle School in Egg Harbor Township Nikki Djokovich/Alder Avenue Middle School in Egg Harbor Township

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - Alder Avenue Middle School will be honored Friday, Dec. 6 when it is presented with the Green Flag Award - the ultimate international eco accolade –  by the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program, according to a school district news release.

Eco-Schools is an international program that provides a framework to help educators integrate sustainable principles throughout their schools and curriculum.

It strives to model environmentally sound practices, provide support for greening the curriculum, enhance academic achievement, and foster environmental stewardship.

Three award levels – bronze, silver, and green flag – provide schools with recognition for their student-centered achievements. Eco-Schools is implemented in more than 50 countries around the world. Eco-Schools USA is part of a successful global Eco-Schools network.

In 2008, the NWF was granted host status for the K-12 Eco-Schools program in the United States, helping it expand its commitment to promoting environmental education, connecting people with nature, and raising awareness about the threat to people and wildlife from global warming. NWF’s Eco-Schools USA program is aligned with the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools Award because Eco-Schools USA’s seven-step framework and “Pathways” program support all three of the pillars required for Green Ribbon School status.

Alder was also selected by Eco-Schools as one of only 11 schools in the state to serve as an international ‘sister school’ to a school in Taiwan, the release said. Through the program students from both countries will communicate via electronic forums and videoconferencing, share ideas and learn how the other is reducing its carbon footprint and making a positive environmental impact.

Alder Avenue Middle School’s Catawba Project and its student participants have played a pivotal role in the school receiving the award and other recent awards including the U.S. Department of Education’s coveted Green Ribbon School Award in 2012, the N.J. Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award in 2012, and the Environmental Quality Award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2013.

The program lists seven steps that the school needs to adopt.

In order to receive the Green Flag Award, a school must establish an Eco-schools Committee, conduct an environmental review, develop an action plan, monitor and evaluate, link the curriculum, inform and involve a wider community and establish an eco-code.

Infused with STEM - science, technology, engineering and math - initiatives, the

Catawba Project is a student-centered, grassroots environmental education program designed to partner Egg Harbor Township public school children with township leaders, environmentalists, parents and other environmental enthusiasts to work together to help solve real-world environmental problems.

The green flag is awarded on a competitive basis and is the highest award given through the Eco-Schools program.  Alder is being recognized for reducing its building’s energy use, teaching students about climate change and renewable energy, and creating composting, recycling, gardening and ecology programs.

Its top-notch sustainability initiatives  include the Great Egg Harboretum Smart’ Trail project where students are working with township leaders to transform and expand a 220-acre mining pit eyesore and arboretum into a community-friendly nature park complete with student-sculpted smart trails that would guide visitors through a five-acre parcel of indigenous shrubs and trees; building the six-acre Community Teaching Garden to educate the public about nonpoint source pollution on the grounds of the Greate Egg Harbour Historical Society; and its in-house, student-run cafeteria recycling program that has saved the district money in trash removal costs.   

For information call 609-646-8441, ext. 1017.  For information on the Catawba Project at Alder Avenue Middle School see www.thecatawbaproject.org


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