BAR HARBOR — Mount Desert Island High School is among 55 schools nationwide and one of only two in Maine to be named a 2020 Green Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE).
The designation recognizes schools for “reducing environmental impact and costs, improving health and wellness and offering effective sustainability education.”
The DOE said that, over the past decade, MDI High has made decisions with environmental health and efficiency in mind.
“Most obvious are the 1,400-plus solar panels on the roof, the DOE noted, quoting from the application the high school submitted. “MDI High was the first high school in Maine to generate all of its electricity needs from on-site solar [starting] in the fall of 2019.”
MDI High was cited for converting to LED lighting, installing an electric vehicle charging station and, with last year’s renovation of the academic wing, improving insulation “to better regulate temperatures and save energy.”
The DOE also noted that MDI High is a leader in recycling and efforts to reduce food waste.
As for promoting health and wellness, the DOE noted that students have a variety of health and fitness classes to choose from. A staff wellness program is led by two teachers who challenge their colleagues to engage in activities to improve their physical and mental health.
More than half of the high school’s students have had at least one course that includes a focus on climate change, human impacts on the environment or proposing solutions to problems they identify and research.
“Most students will engage with the related issues of climate change multiple times during their high school career, regardless of their pathway to graduation,” the DOE said, again quoting from the school’s application.
Principal Matt Haney told the high school board Monday evening that, with all the work that had to be done to transition to remove learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he had forgotten about the school’s application for Green Ribbon designation.
“So, it was a nice surprise to get that on Earth Day,” he said. “This is a great recognition of the work that we’re doing, both learning about and walking the walk with the things we do at school to be sustainable.”
The only other school in Maine to earn the DOE’s Green Ribbon School designation this year is Camden Hills High School in Rockport.