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Hurley cops national Green Ribbon award


Ryan Jarvi/Daily Globe

MEMBERS OF the Hurley School District celebrate national recognition for environmental stewardship. From left, Mark Fedora (transportation committee), Mae Moderson (recycling committee), Diane O'Krongly (forest/grounds chair), Chris Patritto (district superintendent), Troy Puisto (energy committee), Ronda Olkonen (green school chairperson), Patti Bertagnoli (healthy lifestyle committee), and Monica Kolpin (forest/grounds committee).

HURLEY - The Hurley School District was officially recognized Tuesday as a national Green Ribbon award winner for environmental stewardship.

It was the welcome news administrators and teachers had been looking forward to since the district was earlier named a Wisconsin Green Ribbon award winner by the U.S. Department of Education.

Mike Boots, acting chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced Green Ribbon award winners in Washington, D.C., on Earth Day.

Thirty-nine public and nine private schools were recognized nationwide.

Hurley K-12 was singled out for recycling, reducing its paper use, improving heath and wellness through a ski program, creating a school garden and teaching environmental and sustainability education throughout its curriculum, among other initiatives.

Ronda Olkonen, a teacher at Hurley, mentioned the possible award at Monday's school board meeting as she spoke about the district's Green Team strategic plan.

She noted the previous state award garnered Hurley a "Sugar Maple" distinction.

"Winning the national award and receiving this high honor was the work of more than 60 staff members, 640 students and more than 20 community members," Hurley elementary principal Kevin Genisot, said. "They all worked for the same cause, to make our school, community and world a better place for all," he said.

The award carries a trip to Washington, D.C., in July.

Hurley is one of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction's 30 Green Teams.

"We couldn't be more proud that the difficult work has been nationally recognized," he said.

Green Ribbon awards honor schools and districts that:

-Are exemplary in reducing environmental impact and costs.

-Improve the health and wellness of students and staff.

-Provide effective environmental and sustainability education.

Other Wisconsin Green Ribbon winners included Park Elementary, in the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District; Tomorrow River Community Charter School. in Amherst's Tomorrow River School District; Conserve School, in Land O' Lakes and the Greendale School District.

"Schools all over the country can look to today's honorees as models for creating a healthier learning environment, while lowering energy bills and preparing students for success in the 21st century economy," Boots said. "The schools and districts being honored today are taking smart, innovative steps to reduce environmental impacts and teach students the kinds of sustainable practices that they can carry with them into their homes and future careers."


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