Three Connecticut Schools Receive Federal Green Ribbon Award
Hartford's Mary Hooker Environmental Sciences Among Honorees
By VANESSA DE LA TORRE
April 22, 2013
HARTFORD —— The Mary Hooker Environmental Sciences Magnet School is one of three Connecticut schools named U.S. Green Ribbon Schools for their focus on energy conservation, sustainability and stewardship.
Principal Peter Dart said students and staff learned of the award Monday morning when they tuned into a live, streaming video announcement from U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. They watched in their Mary Hooker classrooms.
"There was a huge applause and high-fiving and hugging," Dart said.
New Haven's Common Ground High School and Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School are also among the 64 elementary, middle and high schools honored nationwide. This is the second year that the U.S. Department of Education has recognized eco-friendly schools and the first time that Connecticut has participated in the federal program.
States submit nominations for the annual Green Ribbon Schools competition. Last month, the state named Mary Hooker, Common Ground and Barnard as Green LEAF Schools.
"Today's honorees are modeling a comprehensive approach to being green," Duncan said in a statement. "They are demonstrating ways schools can simultaneously cut costs, improve health, performance and equity, and provide an education geared toward the jobs of the future."
Mary Hooker on Broadview Terrace is a former neighborhood school that reopened with the environmental magnet theme in 2010. About 575 children from Hartford and suburban towns attend the Sheff magnet school, which offers pre-kindergarten to eighth-grade classes.
In 2011, Mary Hooker was the first public school in Connecticut to be certified as LEED platinum — the highest national rating for green buildings — after a roughly $41 million renovation in which builders reused 99.7 percent of the walls, flooring and roofing from the original 1952 structure and added 30,000 square feet.
The school has a waterfall in the lobby that flows into a 3,600-gallon pond. On Monday, staff began transitioning the pond from koi to local fish, such as bass and northern pike, Dart said.
Other school features include an aquatics laboratory; a vivarium where first-graders have raised monarch butterflies; a community garden and greenhouse that grows vegetables that end up in cafeteria lunches; and a planetarium with a 28-foot digital projection dome. Students also compost their meal scraps and monitor energy usage.
Dart and a couple of teachers plan to travel to Washington, D.C., on June 1 to accept the Green Ribbon award.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at