Lexington's Rosa Parks Elementary School joined Georgetown Middle School and 76 other schools across the nation Monday in being named U.S. Green Ribbon Schools in recognition of their environmental improvement efforts.
Richardsville Elementary School in Warren County also received Green School designation on Monday.
All 78 schools were honored for their comprehensive approaches to "green" programs aimed at reducing adverse environmental effects, promoting sustainability and melding environmental concerns into their educational programs.
Rosa Parks, for example, was one of two pilot schools in the Fayette County Public Schools' sustainability program starting in 2010. The school cut its electric bill by $52,000 in the 2010-2011 school year by shutting down equipment during summer vacation, reducing the time that teachers' computers were turned on, and turning down some lights, principal Leslie Thomas said.
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"We had set a goal of saving $10,000, but when the data started coming in, it was incredible," she said. "We had no idea the impact it was going to have."
There were two student groups on sustainability at Rosa Parks, one looking for more ways save energy, the other focusing on recycling. Members of the latter group come in each morning before class to collect paper and other materials for recycling.
"The kids have changed the culture of the building," Thomas said. "They put stickers on our light switches, they post notes if we've left something turned on."
Georgetown Middle School Principal Tommy Hurt also credits his students for helping secure the school's Green Ribbon award. Students were part of an "energy team" that looked for ways to save energy at the school, helping the Scott County Schools save almost $80,000 on energy, he said.
"The students go around and set up reminders about things we can do to save energy," Hurt said. "You'll see them walk the halls, and if a room is empty and the lights are on, they will turn them off. They're very conscious of how important it is."