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Portland Waldorf School in Milwaukie is among this year's 45 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award honorees

The U.S. Department of Education announced this month that the Portland Waldorf School in Milwaukie is among this year's 45 Green Ribbon Schools award honorees for innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.

PHOTO BY: KELLY HOGAN - Joey Rea tastes honey with seventh-grade classmates Matthew Cramblit (from left side of hive), Alicia Mendez, Alisa Nikishin and Tegan Boland from Waldorf's observational beehive under the guidance of master beekeeper Brian Lacy.Portland Waldorf School was nominated by the Oregon Department of Education in recognition of the sustainability initiatives taking place through an interdisciplinary environmental education program called the LivingLAB.

PHOTO BY: KELLY HOGAN - Waldorf 11th-graders, from left, Bjorn Johansson, Jalen DeSantis and Jason Hardy, build a pollinator hotel with woodworking teacher Tom Myers."More than just a garden program, the LivingLAB actively engages the students with a wide variety of sustainability-related projects that are integrated into a long-term site design that is being implemented by students in conjunction with their academic subjects," said Waldorf spokesperson Grace Evans.

The school qualified as an Oregon Green School in 2016 in part by controlling runoff water from its parking lots. The school promotes biking, public transit, recycling, gardening, composting, waste reduction and energy-use reduction. It has committed to change all lightbulbs to LED.

Waldorf's LivingLAB seeks to continuously improve the school's environmental and social sustainability practices to align with its core values and to permeate the student experience.

"Daily compost chores, tending to gardens, and PHOTO BY: YING SHI - Kelly Hogan discusses plans for campus sustainability projects with 11th-graders at Portland Waldorf School in Milwaukie.regular use of a wood-fired oven for a variety of subject lessons all engage the students directly with ongoing activities that model regenerative practices and develop healthy habits," Evans said. "Students are also involved in the design and implementation of the sustainability curriculum, incorporating academic study, volunteerism and community service, and social health to create a program that is relevant to daily life as well as larger contexts such as neighborhood and global issues."

LivingLAB director Kelly Hogan shared news of the U.S. Department of Education's award with the community and expressed her gratitude for the support the program has received.

She said: "True sustainability efforts do not reach an endpoint, but rather continually deepen. This award is a beautiful opportunity for us, as a whole community, to deepen our commitment."

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