LINCOLN – Lincoln High School has been selected as a Green Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education, in recognition of the school’s efforts to reduce environmental impacts and energy costs, improve health and wellness, and offer effective sustainability education.
The announcement was made on Earth Day last Friday, April 22. A total of 27 schools, five districts and four post-secondary institutions are being honored this year across the country.
Supt. Larry Filippelli thanked those who made the award possible, including LHS Principal Rob Mezzanotte, School Committee member Mario Carreno, construction company Gilbane, architecture firm SMMA, and Owner’s Project Manager Colliers International.
“This isn’t achieved without an awesome team from top to bottom and having the support of School Committee, central administration, Rob and his team … that’s what it took to get this over the finish line,” he said.
Schools considered for a Green Ribbon Award have sustainable buildings, programs and curriculum. This year’s honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 19 states.
Lincoln was selected in part for its recently completed renovation project, which upgraded the aging facility and brought in more efficient systems, low-flow and LED fixtures, day-lighting and a modern thermal envelope. Other features include bio-retention systems, pervious surfaces and native plantings so no irrigation is needed.
“Energy efficiency is the biggest thing that stands out, whether it’s through our lighting fixtures or our energy management systems,” Mezzanotte explained. “The building itself is now a green-energy facility, so it’s wired in a way that we’re using the least amount of energy as efficiently as possible.”
A lot has changed since the original building was constructed in 1955, and Mezzanotte said the renovated building reflects that by bringing in much more efficient systems.
“It’s something the town can be proud of,” he said.
The high school is also prioritizing sustainable practices through programming. The Health and Wellness Committee, led by School Committee member Mary Anne Roll, works to ensure that Lincoln schools are healthy and safe environments.
On the curriculum level, LHS students have the opportunity to expand their environmental literacy by signing up for classes like AP environmental science, marine biology/zoology, and design and engineering.
The high school also requires students to take a civic responsibility course, which includes a community service project. Many students choose to focus their projects on environmental causes. Similarly, the required 9th-grade physical science course at LHS includes a project-based learning component called the Urban Heat Project, which culminates with students building and testing a model roof design with the goal of minimizing urban heat.
Mezzanotte said Lincoln’s selection as a Green Ribbon School reflects the progress made in the last few years, from upgrading the facility to taking a “holistic look” at health and wellness through program and curriculum offerings.
One of the great things to come out of the Green Ribbon process, he said, is a new student-led “green team” at LHS. They conducted a school-wide survey to find out which sustainability initiatives students might be interested in, and agreed to launch a recycling program.
“With this generation of kids, they’re really engaged and interested in environmentalism because they’ve grown up with climate change; it’s been a part of their childhood since they’ve been in school,” Mezzanotte said. “It’s been a really real thing for them, so when you look at environmental engagement, young people are really tapped-in.”