Students at Kimbark Elementary School see their environmentally conscious efforts as a way of life.
They recycle as much as possible, are vigilant about conserving water, and love spreading their concern for Mother Earth with other students from across the San Bernardino City Unified School District.
And, state officials are taking notice.
The California Department of Education recently recognized Kimbark Elementary as a Green Ribbon School, an honor that went to fewer than 30 public schools across the state. The award acknowledges schools that demonstrate exemplary achievement in three key areas: environmental impact, student and staff health and wellness, and environmental education. Kimbark was honored by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson at a ceremony held at Redondo Union High School on March 3.
“These schools and districts serve as role models for their students in two important ways,” said Torlakson, who started his public service career as a high school science teacher and coach. “First, they manage their own facilities wisely by saving energy, conserving water, and reducing their impact on the environment. Next, they provide innovative education programs that teach students about nature, the importance of clean air and water, and how to make good choices to preserve the environment for future generations.”
As a magnet school with an environmental emphasis, Kimbark Elementary students have always focused on conservation as a way to reduce their impact on the planet, said Principal Mario Jaquez.
That focus became even more evident in the last year, when the state’s drought dried up one of two wells in the unincorporated, semirural community of Devore, where Kimbark is located. Students turned that near crisis into an opportunity to conserve water.
“Our students and parents understand why our grass isn’t green,” Jacquez said. “They know that we’re being water wise.”
Aside from significantly reducing its water use by 92 percent from 2013 to 2016, Kimbark Elementary also cut its greenhouse emissions by 40 percent as part of the District’s energy conservation program. And, plans are underway to decrease student’s reliance on plastic water bottles by turning to stainless steel, canteen-type bottles, Jacquez said.
Kimbark students are spreading their concern for the environment across the District by teaching other students to recycle. Recently, fifth- and sixth-grade students in the Kimbark Environmental Leadership Program, also known as KELP, visited Belvedere Elementary School in Highland to help children learn how to be better stewards of the environment.
This spring, Kimbark students will put on “Recycle,” an original musical funded by a $12,000 grant from the San Bernardino Fine Arts Commission.