Learn, Lead, and Serve in the Spirit of Mary's Magnificat

Story Details

U.S. Secretary of Education Names Magnificat High School 2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School
U.S. Secretary of Education Names Magnificat High School 2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School
Magnificat High School

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that Magnificat High School in Rocky River, Ohio is among the 2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award honorees.

Magnificat High School was nominated by the Ohio Department of Education. This award acknowledges Magnificat's commitment to sustainable practices and for leadership in facilities, health, and environmental education. Magnificat is representative of promising practices to improve achievement and equity, not only for aspiring green schools, but for all schools.

"Sustainable practices have been a priority for our school community for many years as we are aware of our impact on the world. We intend to do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint while teaching our young women the importance of environmental sustainability and care for our Earth. Our students have already taken significant leadership roles in pushing our school community forward in these initiatives, including recycling, composting, and the elimination of plastic water bottles on campus."Moira Clark '77, President of Magnificat High School

Across the country, 46 schools, six districts, and six 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 25 states and the Department of Defense Department of Education Activity. The selectees include 40 public schools, including two magnet schools and two charter schools, as well as six nonpublic schools. Forty-five percent of the 2018 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 58 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.

Magnificat's Green Ribbon School Profile

Mother Earth helps instill care for God's creation

Ever since Magnificat opened in 1955 with a freshman class of 63 students and three Sisters of the Humility of Mary, the school has reflected the Humility of Mary Community charism of humility connecting Magnificat with "the whole earth community," and the justice theme of Care for God's Creation.

The 19-acre campus is thoughtfully developed to maximize this mirror of the HMs beliefs, and is reflected in all that Magnificat's students, staff, and faculty do.

Magnificat has participated in a Demand Response Program through its energy provider since 2013, earning annual rebates. The school's most recent renovation included the installation of occupancy sensors, light tunnels, and sustainable furniture, paneling, and flooring. In 2014, the Magnificat hoop house was installed with ridge wall vent shutters using solar operators. All halogen bulbs have been replaced with LED bulbs where feasible.

Annual soil samples are taken to determine application of fertilizers on turf based on need, reducing applications from six to four annually. Facilities personnel remediated fixtures to eliminate lead in water and tested in 2015. All new campus plantings are native species. Students installed a rain garden planted with natives, diverting a 2,500-square foot roof section of storm water from the city sewer system. Magnificat partnered with Holden Arboretum toward certification as a Tree School. Students have inventoried and evaluated campus trees, and actively develop plans to reforest the campus. Rain barrels are used to supplement irrigation of the vegetable garden.

In 2008, the Magnificat recycling program was formalized with single-stream recycling and a separate contract for composting. Recycling and composting centers are strategically located around the school. All classrooms and office spaces have a single-stream recycling bin and a marked landfill receptacle. Magnificat introduced "Mother Earth," (the environmental science teacher dressed in character) to the school community in 2008, and she appears at school gatherings to help raise awareness.

Magnificat began its conversion to a paperless environment in 2011. The school cafeteria uses compostable service plates and utensils. Faculty and staff are encouraged to use Google Docs, and students are provided devices if they are not able to afford them. Over a quarter million plastic water bottles have been eliminated from the landfill by encouraging the use of a reusable water bottle at one of two water refilling stations.

Magnificat is a no-idling campus, with signage posted at student pick-up locations. The school encourages community members to walk or ride a bike to school, and students walk to all local field trips.

An online work-order system, available to all faculty and staff, ensures quick remediation of facilities maintenance issues before they become a health concern. Exhaust systems and ventilation equipment are inspected three times per year, and filters are changed twice per year. Magnificat created a Safety Committee in 2016, with members from administration, department heads, and facilities. Meeting bi-monthly, the group reviews all safety issues, including hazardous materials, equipment safety, chemical storage, and IPM matters. In 2015, all mercury compounds were eliminated from classrooms and storerooms. Smoking is prohibited on campus, and signage is posted at school entrances. All classrooms and offices are visually inspected weekly by facilities staff.

Students began gardening offsite in 2013, and secured funding to construct an onsite gothic arch hoop house in 2014 to grow vegetables. Students' gardening efforts have resulted in the donation of over 670 pounds of organically grown vegetables to the local Meals on Wheels program. The hoop area was expanded in 2015 to include a three-season pavilion to be used as outdoor classroom space. It is a NWf certified wildlife habitat and also certified and registered as an official Monarch waystation through Monarch Watch. The main building has a landscaped courtyard and pond, and, in 2016, a grotto with a pond and seating was constructed in an underutilized turf area expanding outdoor classroom space. The cafeteria remodel included an expansion of an outdoor patio with additional seating.

The Magnificat health and physical education program strives to promote holistic health through a wellness approach, which stresses the need for balance in one's life. Over 65 percent of Magnificat students participate in at least one team sport. The school fitness center was renovated and new equipment purchased in the summer of 2015, and is available to all students, faculty, and staff.

Environmental and sustainability concepts are integrated throughout the Magnificat curriculum, which is aligned to the state 2010 science standards. Care for God's Creation, one of the Catholic social teachings, is included in the faculty/staff annual Mission Day programming. The Magnificat environmental education curriculum pays particular attention to scientific practices, such as asking questions, developing and using models, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, using mathematics and computational thinking, constructing explanations and engaging in argument, and applications based on evidence.

In 2012, Magnificat obtained the Fair Trade School designation by Fair Trade USA. Coffee consumed on campus is all Fair Trade, and Fair Trade uniforms are available for purchase. Magnificat holds an annual two-day Fair Trade Christmas Sale, inviting local Fair Trade organizations to campus. Magnificat's Sustainability and Seeds of Service club students have been invited to showcase Magnificat's efforts toward sustainability, conducting tours of gardens and presentations. Marine science club students engage in experiential learning on the Floating Lab at Hinckley Lake in Hinckley, Ohio.

Students participate in a two-day biodiversity investigation identifying an area on campus with the most biodiversity and quantifying their findings. They investigate invasive species, the cause of spreading, and problem-solve ways to stop the spread. Students visit a recycling center/landfill, investigate solid waste in their lunch, and use critical thinking to decrease their waste. They investigate the addition of nitrogen, phosphorus, or a combination of both in campus pond water by adding samples and growing algae for three weeks. Students visit a wastewater treatment plant and observe how waste is removed. They discover how to cook s'mores using solar ovens. Students place slides all over campus to collect data to investigate air pollution. Student-created biodiversity question posters blitz the campus. The school facilities director offers tours to students to learn about school mechanical systems and sustainability efforts.

Retreats for students are offered at every grade level. The freshman class journeys together to spend the day on the school's founders' farm, located on 726 acres in Villa Maria, Penn. The sophomore class walks to their retreat location, bringing only reusable water bottles. They are served a simple meal of bread and soup and reflect on the themes of simplicity, service, and compassion. Juniors and seniors are offered a variety of retreats located at nature settings such as the Lake Erie Beach, the Jesuit Retreat House, Hocking Hills, the Wellness Center at Rivers Edge, and the Villa Maria farm.