Greens Farms Academy has earned national recognition for its "sustainable practices."

The Beachside Avenue school was cited as a Green Ribbon School this week by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The selection is based on criteria that include reducing a school's environmental impact and costs, improving its health and wellness programs and a curriculum that provides environmental education classes, according to a release announcing the award.

Janet Hartwell, the GFA head of school, said in the statement: "Our mission with respect to sustainability is to investigate and implement solutions that lead to a more efficient and low-impact campus. Included in this is our effort to engage the entire community in events and education so that they understand how their decisions and actions can affect the environment."

Among the sustainable practices at GFA are: composting in the cafeteria, which students then use in the school's organic garden; solar panels and hosting "eco events" in school and the community.

One of GFA's signature sustainability programs, according to school officials is Seed to Table, in which students explore links to the greater world through food and the natural environment.

The academy's commitment to sustainability is even reflected in its motto, "Each for All," school officials say.

A recent example, they say, is the new Performing Arts Center and Global Studies Center, which uses recycled building materials and will feature a "green roof."

In her letter of congratulations, Andrea Suarez Falken, the director of the Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools program, wrote, "We commend your school for its leadership in environmental stewardship, health, and sustainability and for inspiring your entire school community to aim high. You are representative of promising practices to improve achievement and equity, not only for aspiring green schools but for all schools."

In accepting the award, Hartwell commended the school's sustainability coordinators Jacqueline Tran and Tamar Cunha. "These two passionate teachers might be found in the classroom, the salt marsh, the organic garden, or working with the recycling crews. They work tirelessly and with good humor to help the whole school be aware of how our actions impact our environment."

For more about Greens Farms Academy, visit For information about Green Ribbon Schools, visit