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It was announced today that Environmental Charter High School (ECHS), our community partner for the Departures Richland Farms installment, has named a finalist in President Obama's "Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge," official recognition for ECHS' academic excellence from the White House and the Department of Education.
The honor comes as no surprise to me, as ECHS, a public charter high school, sports an innovative and unique experiential learning design for college preparation. One of its most effective initiatives is the Green Ambassadors program, which empowers youth to become agents for change in their communities and the world by tackling critical environmental issues. ECHS and its Green Ambassadors program have been honored with the EPA Environmental Award, the California Service Learning Leader Award, the California Charter Schools Dissemination Grant, and Green Teacher of the Year Award.
Check out President Obama's announcing the High School Commencement Challenge:
Now check out the video ECHS students made in response to Obama's challenge:
With 92% of last year's graduating class accepted into a four-year university, ECHS is one of the country's highest performing college prep schools and a model school for the entire country. In fact, the Green Ambassador program is being implemented by other schools around the country.
ECHS is also featured in MPC's Growing Greener Schools initiative, which is both a PBS television event and a movement that empowers students, teachers, and parents to incorporate green ideas into their physical school buildings and classroom curricula. The first episode will feature this weekend on KCET on Sun Apr 18, 2010 -- 10:30PM.
My connection to ECHS is that KCET Departures is teaming up with students from the school to investigate Richland Farms, a once-thriving urban agricultural area that now looks to return to those roots. Thus far, we've lined up interviews with government officials like Compton Mayor Perrodin, as well as with Richland Farms' community members and advocates and organizations like Heal the Bay. We invite you to follow us as we discover Richland Farms, an area that could be a model for urban agriculture.
Congratulation to ECHS! And please tune in and vote for ECHS in the Race to the Top Challenge. The school's education model deserves national attention, and we need more schools adopting their approach to learning!