Mariners Elementary School pulled together over the last year to help the environment.
The school lowered its energy consumption and earned the status of "mentor campus" to guide other schools next year.
"Being green is very important to our school," said Claire Covina, 12, the sixth-grade energy commissioner. "The whole school is involved."
The Newport Beach school, which is part of the Green Team program for the second year, is focused on lowering its electricity use, saving money and helping the environment by turning off lights and unplugging unused gadgets.
Half of the money saved, about $900, was given to fifth-grade teacher Matt Evans whose baby, Piper, was diagnosed in January with cancer and a rare autoimmune disease.
"The kids have really wrapped around the idea of community and helping out our family," Evans said.
Last year, Mariners lowered its average usage by 13.6%, shaving $2,637 off its electric bill. The savings were split between the school and district.
This year, the school's energy use is down another 20%, said third-grade teacher Pat McLaughlin.
Mariners was asked to continue the program for a third year as a mentor school, an unprecedented honor, McLaughlin announced to the team Tuesday.
"Nobody gets to do that," she said. "They've only asked one school ever."
The school lowered its use even more by raising awareness through announcements, posters and creating competition among classrooms to be green, said fifth-grader Olivia Cox, 11, the effort's head of publicity.
The students worked to get rid of an unused vending machine and get 100% participation on using half as many lights, recycling, turning down thermostats and unplugging unused appliances, said Green Team President Kaela Whelan, 12.
The team also included the community in its recycling efforts, which will continue through the summer.