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U.S. Secretary of Education Names Blackstone Valley Tech 2015 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School

May 29, 2015 10:25AM ● By Pamela Johnson
Managing Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Christy Goldfuss and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have announced that Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School in Upton, Mass. is among the 2015 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award honorees.
Blackstone Valley Tech was nominated by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and is one of only three schools in the state to receive this recognition for reducing environmental impact and costs, improving health and wellness of students and staff, and providing environmental education as a road to green career pathways.
According to Superintendent-Director Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, multiple renovations over the school's fifty-year history have increasingly emphasized energy-efficient features, including solar arrays, light tubes, displacement ventilation, and high-efficiency lighting. The school's curriculum was adapted to complement the facility's green technology and includes lessons in solar, biomass, biofuel, and geothermal technologies, as well as conservation calculations and themes. Valley Tech's 18 vocational technical shops have also made green technology and sustainability cornerstones of their training, with students and staff operating, maintaining, and upgrading the school's photovoltaic and high-efficiency heating and cooling systems.
Many programs have also adapted their methods to better protect the environment. The Multimedia Communications program transformed into an energy-savings digital media shop and significantly reduced its use of paper and ink. The school's Auto Body shop is one of the first in the nation to use a SimSpray paint simulator, which allows students to perfect their auto-painting techniques without using polluting paints and noxious fumes. The Construction Technology program converts sawdust into heat-generating wood pellets, and the Culinary Arts program recycles cooking oil to create biofuel, which is used to operate school equipment and machinery.
"Embracing energy efficiency, green technology, and sustainability is the right thing to do for both our planet and our students," said Superintendent-Director Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick. "As we prepare students for the future workforce, green energy represents a rapidly expanding source of career opportunities."

In total, across the country, 58 schools and 14 districts were honored for their exemplary efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education, including civics and green career pathways. In addition, 9 colleges and universities were honored for the Postsecondary Sustainability Award.  Duncan and Goldfuss made the announcement at the U.S. Department of Education, in Washington, DC.
“These honorees are compelling examples of the ways schools can help children build real-world skillsets, cut school costs, and provide healthy learning environments,” Duncan said. “U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools are an inspiration and deserve the spotlight for embodying strong examples of innovative learning and civic engagement. We also are thrilled to add institutions of higher education to the list of honorees this year for the first time in the award’s history.”
Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School serves the towns of Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northbridge, Sutton, Upton and Uxbridge. Located in the heart of the Blackstone Valley, Blackstone Valley Tech creates a positive learning community that prepares students for personal and professional success in an internationally competitive society through a fusion of vigorous vocational, technical, and academic skills. The school’s website is

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