2010 Golden Bell Winners

Oak Park Unified School District's $5,000 "Green" Education Award

Ventura County's Oak Park Unified School District proves that passion for education and compassion for sustainable practices is an award-winning combination.

The district's Environmental Education, Awareness & Accountability program was recognized by the California School Boards Association (CSBA) for its student-led, environmentally friendly curricula and community outreach.  The program was submitted in the Sustainable, Renewable, Energy and Resource Efficient Programs category of the CSBA Golden Bell Awards, a long-standing statewide recognition program that identifies and celebrates excellent public education programs across all areas of instruction and leadership.  As the winner in this category, Oak Park USD receives $5,000 from Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost LLP, sponsor of the "Going Green!" Golden Bell award.

"We are extremely proud of our students and this achievement," said Leslie Heilbron, Oak Park USD's assistant superintendent of human resources.  "Celebrating this accomplishment is twofold; Not only does this honor speak to the cultivation of our students' sense of commitment and responsibility as individuals, but also their awareness of and sensitivity to pressing environmental sensibilities."

"We believe the 'Going Green!' category reflects public education's growing interest in environmental protection and resource conservation and we support that interest," said Peter Fagen, Managing Partner at Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost LLP. The firm is generously endowing the Going Green! award with a $5,000 education award.

"We work with school districts throughout the state that are striving to reduce energy consumption and explore renewable energy options for their schools.  We feel offering financial support to student-based programs that encourage conservation efforts is a natural way for us to support the great 'green' cause," said Mr. Fagen.

"In these difficult economic times, it is refreshing to see our private sector partners literally putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to public education," Heilbron asserted.  "These contributions are not only benevolent, but ultimately vital."

Environmental Education, Awareness & Accountability

Oak Park USD's Environmental Education, Awareness & Accountability Program is a comprehensive, district-wide initiative that provides numerous exciting opportunities for students and parents, and has garnered community support to enhance environmental  education, awareness, and accountability.  Examples include:

  • Districtwide utilization of sustainable, non-toxic cleaning products
  • Installation of bioswale system that absorbs rainwater run-off into infiltration system so that water and pollutants do not run into the local creek
  • Institution of "no additive" policy for all cafeteria food, which are served on trays made from corn and recycled materials
  • Coordination of Earth Week events, which include student booths providing information on environmental issues

Oak Park USD, specifically the Environmental Education, Awareness & Accountability Committee, serves as a resource for other schools and districts that would like to replicate these types of environmental education and awareness programs.

"Going Green!" education award

As part of the California School Boards Association's Golden Bell Awards, which recognizes excellent education in 19 categories, the "Going Green!" category—Sustainability, Renewable, Energy and Resource Efficient Programs—is the only Golden Bell category complemented by an education award for schools/students.  Entries are solicited statewide and evaluated by CSBA leadership. Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost is proud to contribute a $5,000 education award to the winner.

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