In partnership with the National Grid Foundation, an amazing organization that creates opportunities for solutions to educational and environmental issues, the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) hosted the Green Dependence Day Challenge this past fall. Together, we challenged thousands of high school students in select regions across the Northeast to combat climate change.
And at long last, the results are in – and we are thrilled to share them with you today!
First… a little context. To win the Green Dependence Day Challenge in the first place, high school students in New York City, Long Island, Upstate New York, and New England viewed the award-winning ACE Assembly on climate science and solutions. Then, they worked with ACE to take on carbon emissions-reducing projects—anything from implementing recycling programs to conducting energy efficiency retrofits to installing solar panels. Students reported the number and scope of carbon-reducing projects that they completed. The winners in each region would take home $1,000 to implement their next great green ideas.
More than 26 schools across New York and New England competed in the contest and completed projects such as carrying out energy audits, or implementing recycling programs. Out of these entrants, 4 regional winners and 2 runner-ups emerged! Without further delay, here they are:
GRAND PRIZE WINNERS
New England Winner: Somerville High School
Somerville has developed a strong classroom recycling program and through their winning project, they will develop a recycling program in their cafeteria as well as other high-use areas of the school such as the gym and the auditorium. The project will involve placing large recycling bins in new areas and an extensive peer education campaign that involves loudspeaker announcements, posters, and incentives. This project will impact the entire school, which has 1,300 students, and it will reach many students who may not be interested in environmental issues otherwise. They will measure their progress by weighing the trash before the project, and again in May 2012. They aim to reduce their trashload by 15% by June 2012.
Upstate New York Winner: Steinmetz Career & Leadership Academy
The Steinmetz Academy’s Action Team is working tirelessly to eliminate environmental pollutants and waste. Their winning project will help reduce and eventually eliminate their school’s use of styrofoam. They will also begin recycling and collecting all paper and cardboard. Last, through this project, they will recycle all cans and bottles produced. They expect that if they are able to eliminate styrofoam, they will reduce their waste by more than 3,600 “lunch trays” per month – a huge savings! Similarly, they estimate they will save more than four 90 gallon containers of paper waste each week.
New York City Winner: Brooklyn International High School
Brooklyn International’s Green Leaders Club will replace two broken water fountains and encourage fellow students to use reusable water bottles. They will also collect plastic water bottles and recycle them. The school will decrease the number of students buying water by approximately 30%, and recycle 50% more plastic water bottles.
Long Island Winner: Mineola High School
Mineola’s Environmental Club collects any kind of bottle cap – water bottle, shampoo, laundry detergent caps – and recycles them. Through their participation in the bottle cap recycling program, they have raised awareness about the importance of recycling and how waste can be ‘up-cycled’ into other goods. Through their winning project, in spring 2012 the Club will bring the bottle cap recycling program to nearby elementary schools. High school students will educate younger students about the importance of recycling. They ultimately aim to make bottle cap recycling – and eco-friendly behavior – a district-wide activity.
New York: St. Ann’s School
This Brooklyn high school will continue to create a self-sustaining green space at their school. Last year, their Action Team acquired donations to transform their small backyard space into a garden/green hangout space for students. This spring, the team seeks to add a rain collection system and compost unit to the garden so that all water and sod needs for the garden will be provided through existing resources. In addition, the high school students will use the garden as a teaching tool, educating younger middle school students about the process of composting and sustainable gardening.
New England: Abby Kelley Foster Charter Public School
Abby Kelley’s Environmental Action Club is increasing alternative transportation at their school through the recent purchase of a new bicycle rack. With the grant funds, they will host a concert, dubbed “Rock On, Power Off,” in April to launch their campus bicycle program. The concert’s intermission will feature a bike parade and they will ask the students to decorate their bicycles or skateboards and ride them around the parking lot to the new bicycle rack. The concert will also raised funds to purchase solar powered lights for their school flagpoles.