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Habitat learning, sustainability efforts hoist Castle Rock Elementary to Green Flag honor

CASTLE ROCK – Recently Castle Rock Elementary School (CRE) became the fourth school in the Douglas County School District to receive the prestigious Green Flag Award.

Like many other Green Flag schools, CRE students have proudly led efforts to increase recycling and cut down on the use of electricity in the building. Principal Kelly Ursetta, however, says it was the school’s habitat and the way that they tie it into student learning that captured the attention of Eco-Schools USA during their visits.

“Our habitat makes us a very unique and exciting school to be at,” explained Ursetta. “My kids absolutely love habitat education.”

On a regular basis CRE students are given the opportunity to connect their grade level projects ​to
 the area, making it a central part of the student’s learning.​  

“They’re out there daily,” Ursetta added. “When kids interact with nature, it is really exciting to watch.”

The students maintain the habitat and are even working with the Town of Castle Rock Parks and Open Space department to expand their paths, so connect with the trail system in the adjoining open space.

The school’s focus on sustainability on school grounds, as well as inside the building was recognized, when Eco Schools USA announced Castle Rock had received the Green Flag Award.

CRE is the thirty-third in the nation and fifth in Colorado to earn the award, which is the highest recognition Eco-Schools gives to schools around the globe.

The other Douglas County Green Flag Schools include:

  • Copper Mesa Elementary
  • Flagstone Elementary
  • Heritage Elementary

“I’m extremely proud of my kids and teachers,” said Ursetta.

About the Eco-Schools
Eco-Schools is an internationally acclaimed program that provides a framework to help educators integrate sustainable principles throughout their schools and curriculum.  The Eco-Schools program strives to model environmentally sound practices, provide support for greening the curriculum and enhance science and academic achievement.

The program, which is being implemented in more than 50 countries around the world, is designed in a way that:

  • Improves academic performance, especially in science and math
  • Leads to financial savings for schools
  • Decreases the school's carbon footprint through practical solutions that reduce energy and water consumption
  • Reduces school waste and conserves natural resources
  • Encourages student environmental awareness and stewardship
  • Increases parental involvement
  • Helps students and teachers develop stronger relationships with their communities
  • Develops national and international links

In the United States it is hosted by the National Wildlife Federation.

More information about Eco-Schools USA and the Green Flag Award may be found at


May 19, 2014 | By rmbarber | Category: Sustainability

District News

graduates standing in line outside, smiling

DOUGLAS COUNTY – Graduation rates in the Douglas County School District (DCSD) continue to climb. Data released today by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) shows the on-time, four-year graduation rate is now 90.4 percent.

DCSD students also made an impressive showing at graduation. The class of 2017 earned more than $82 million in scholarships.

DCSD has one of the highest graduation rates in the Denver metro area. According to CDE, DCSD graduation rates have risen steadily from 81.9 percent in 2009 to 90.4 percent in 2017.

Five female students standing on stage smiling and laughing at the awards ceremony

The top two-percent of female athletes in Douglas County School District (DCSD) were honored at the annual Girls and Women in Sports Luncheon last week at Chaparral High School. This year represented the 30th national celebration of Girls and Women in Sports Day, created to encourage and promote the participation of girls in athletics. The girls who were honored were selected by their school’s coaches, athletic directors and principals for their outstanding achievements.

Superintendent Search text based logo

Working through the recent winter break, the Douglas County School District Board of Education has kicked off its search for DCSD’s next permanent superintendent. Following a thorough vetting of potential search firms, Ray & Associates (no relation to Board Director David Ray) has been hired to conduct the national search. The cost of the firm, excluding travel expenses, is $40,000. The money will come from the school board's budget, which is used for costs such as legal expenses and conferences.