By Abbie Smith, Register Staff

NEW HAVEN — Common Ground High School was one of two schools in the nation to be awarded the 2011 Green Prize merit award in public education.

The award, which comes with a $5,000 prize, was given by the National Environmental Education Foundation. It went to Common Ground for the school’s success in engaging students and the community in projects that promote sustainability and environmental responsibility.

“I think the combination of the student-led work and our environmental curriculum is what stood out,” said Joel Tolman, director of development and community engagement at the school.

Students at Common Ground, a charter high school focused on the environment, helped secure a $100,000 grant from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board last spring to fund the school’s Leading Green program. For the past year, students engaged in the program have brainstormed ideas for making the Common Ground campus and school more sustainable. For example, one idea was to create a rainwater cistern to collect “gray water” for gardening and to give to animals on the school’s 20-acre campus.

Read more on the New Haven Register website.