South Carolina Charter School wins national award for environmental success

The U.S. Department of Education has announced that Cape Romain Environmental Education Charter School (CREECS) in McClellanville is among the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award honorees.

“What a tremendous honor for our students, teachers and community, especially as we are separated due to the coronavirus,” said Margaret Crouch, CREECS principal. “Together our CREECS family intentionally incorporates environmental stewardship into everything we do.”

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) nominated CREECS for the national award. The 4K-8th grade school has an active, student-driven recycling program. Every Friday, students collect and sort recycling before putting it into the school bin. Beyond regular recycling, CREECS strives to be a plastic-free campus. CREECS has stopped selling plastic bottles in the concession stands and at all school-related events. The school has also switched over to entirely compostable silverware, plates, bowls, etc., at all fundraising events. “All students are encouraged to bring a waste-free lunch and were gifted bamboo cutlery to replace the plastic cutlery in their lunch boxes,” Crouch said.

CREECS teachers and students are also working to get USDA certification for their completely organic garden, and as such do not use pesticides or fertilizers anywhere on campus. There is an active honeybee hive to help with pollination in their garden and the surrounding area. As the school continues to grow, CREECS finds new ways to help reduce the school’s environmental impacts and students are sharing their success. Two years in a row CREECS students have been chosen to present their environmental projects at the annual Find Your Way International Youth Summit on Plastic Pollution in California.

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“Cape Romain Environmental Education Charter School was founded on the principles of community, love of place, and environmental stewardship,” Crouch said. “The faculty and staff of CREECS continues to be committed to these principles through teaching the importance of ecological conservation and sustainability.”

“The Town of McClellanville is extremely proud of CREECS and their achievement of being selected as a 2020 US Department of Education Green Ribbon School,” said Rutledge Leland, mayor of McClellanville. “This achievement illustrates the dedication of the administration, teachers and students to our community and the environment in which we live. We are fortunate to have such an outstanding educational facility in our community.”

Across the country, 39 schools, 11 districts and five postsecondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness and ensure effective sustainability education.

The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 27 states. The selectees included 28 public schools, including three magnet schools and four charter schools, as well as 11 nonpublic schools. Forty-five percent of the 2020 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body.

The list of all selected schools, districts, colleges and universities, as well as their nomination packages, can be found here. A report with highlights on the 55 honorees can be found here. More information on the federal recognition award can be found here. Resources for all schools to move toward the three Pillars can be found here.

For more information visit creecs.org or contact Joanna McClellan at 843-887-3323 or jmcclellan@creecs.org.

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