New Hanover County Schools




Wrightsville Beach Elementary Named a 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School

Wrightsville Beach Elementary (WBES) is among the 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award honorees. The school was nominated by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Among the qualities that earned WBES the Green Ribbon distinction is the school’s Marine Science program. Over the past 20 years, the program has grown to encompass outdoor marine science and environmental education, classroom education, community outreach, interdisciplinary learning, and citizen science projects. Activities are designed to support the Standard Course of Study in each grade while also providing authentic learning experiences. Marine Science plays a significant role in the culture of the school, embedding lessons of citizenship, team building, problem-solving, and responsibility. Each week, students have class out on the school dock to learn about the marsh ecosystem and local wildlife.

“Environmental education and stewardship are a huge part of who we are as a school. It’s such an honor to be recognized in this way,” said Principal Jackson Norvell.

“The Marine Science program at Wrightsville Beach Elementary is a world-class program that provides students with an invaluable hands-on learning experience,” said NHCS Superintendent Dr. Charles Foust. “As a coastal community, it is important to educate our children about the marine life which exists within our local ecosystems. I applaud the schools team and commend them on this outstanding accomplishment.”

Across the country, 27 schools, three early learning centers, five districts, and five postsecondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. 

The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 20 states. The selectees include 24 public schools, five charter schools, one magnet school, and three nonpublic schools. Over half of the 2021 honorees are in communities where over 40 percent of the student body are eligible for free and reduced lunch.

Media outlets can request interviews with Wrightsville Beach school staff regarding this award. For more information on that opportunity, please email