Four Pennsylvania schools, including two from the Philadelphia area, and four New Jersey schools, one from South Jersey, were among 78 named Monday by the U. S. Department of Education as Green Ribbon Schools in recognition of their environmental design and practices.

The Green Ribbon Schools designation is similar to the Blue Ribbon Schools recognition program for academic achievement. The winners get no monetary reward, just the prestige of being named. These are the first Green Ribbon awards.

The Pennsylvania schools are: Radnor Middle School in Delaware County; Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, a private school in Chestnut Hill, Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School in Chambersburg; and A.W. Beattie Career Center near Pittsburgh.

The New Jersey winners are: Adler Avenue Middle School in Egg Harbor Township, Atlantic County; Bernards High School in Bernardsville; the Midtown Community Elementary School in Neptune; and the Willow School in Gladstone.

Schools were judged on how well they contributed to creating a "green" environment through reducing environmental impact, promoting health, and offering high-quality environmental and outdoor education.

Nationwide, the winners included 66 public schools (eight of them charters) and 12 private schools. About 50 percent were high-poverty schools. No state had more than four winners.

"Green Ribbon Schools demonstrate compelling examples of the ways schools can expand their course work while also helping children build real-world skill sets, cut school costs, and provide healthy learning environments," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement.

The Green Ribbon Schools awards are slated to become annual, and next year's competition will open for nominations this summer. The plan is to grow until about 200 schools get the designation each year.

Contact staff writer Dan Hardy at 215-854-2612 or, or follow on Twitter @DanInq