Ewa Makai Earns National Notice For ‘Greening’ Its Campus

Ewa Makai Middle School vice principal Ursula Kawaguchi with Green Ribbon plaque. Photo from EMMS.


Local schools’ efforts to go green are being recognized nationwide as the Obama administration chose Ewa Makai Middle School and Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA) on the Big Island, to receive the first-ever U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) award.

Earlier this year, U.S. secretary of education Arne Duncan was joined by the White House Council on Environment Quality chairwoman Nancy Sutley, and Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson to announce the 78 schools that earned the Green Ribbon.

Created last year, the award gives federal recognition to schools that exercise a comprehensive approach to creating “green” environments by improving environmental and outdoor education.

Ewa Makai exemplifies the concept of “going green.” The school educates students about organic products and issues surrounding processed foods. Students also conserve water using native flora from on-campus gardens, create mulch from grass and landscape cuttings, and create natural fertilizer.

Collectively, these efforts to reduce, reuse and conserve have cut school spending on natural resources.

“Science, environmental, and outdoor education play a central role in providing children with a well-rounded education, helping prepare them for the jobs of the future,” said Duncan. “U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools demonstrate compelling examples of the ways schools can help children build real-world skillsets, cut school costs, and provide healthy learning environments.”

Kokua Hawaii Foundation co-founder Jack Johnson and singer Paula Fuga surprised Ewa Makai students by putting on a congratulatory concert at a school assembly. After the concert, Johnson joined his wife Kim to tour the LEED Gold-certified West Oahu campus where they observed a vermicomposting pipeline, hydroponic and aquaponic systems, a butterfly atrium and more.

The Green Ribbon is now an annual award, and HPA and Ewa Makai have set the bar high for next year’s contestants.