Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Earth Day" Year 'Round

On April 22nd, we celebrated Earth Day in many areas of the country. Many people practiced clean environmental strategies by reducing, reusing, and recycling. Some rode their bikes to work; others even stayed home to work. This week on Thursday, May 14th, is "Bike to Work Day" in the Bay Area, another chance to serve the community at large by reducing hazardous emissions in our atmosphere. To further improve the environment, two very energetic and ambitious Palo Alto High School students have dedicated their spare time this school year to environmental awareness year round.

Mike Abrams and Renee Singh, both high school freshmen, launched an effort "to increase ecological sustainability within every PALY classroom." They approached me several months ago with the goal of providing donated plants for the school. I must admit that the plan seemed like a bit of a reach given the state of the local economy. However, after their concerted efforts working with several nurseries and suppliers, they have now succeeded in placing thirteen plants in the science classrooms and offices. This has not been merely a one-day event, but a weekly focus with a purpose.

Mikey and Renee recently shared their story with me:
"Renee and I were inspired to create the Paly Environmental Initiative after spending a few months at PALY and seeing just how much the school as a whole needed to environmentally improve. We wanted to look for ways to better air quality in the classrooms first, because we thought it would have the greatest impact on our student body. After researching ways to clean indoor air, we found out that certain indoor plants can alleviate pollution from airborne bacteria and computer debris. After further research, Renee and I started the PEI, and went from nursery to nursery asking for plant donations. And now, 23 teachers in 4 departments have cleaner classrooms. In the future we will continue to expand this project and develop new ones - some of our ideas include a "plant-a-thon" to put more trees in the campus and solar paneling PALY."

It is a joy to watch hundreds of students at our high school become passionate about a cause and dedicate their time and resources to serving the community in ways that really make a difference. Thanks to these caring freshmen, our classrooms will be cleaner and even more aesthetically appealing. They even have a lunchtime maintenance plan of watering in the Science and History departments every Tuesday, and in the English and Math departments on Wednesday. Obviously, these aren't your average students "hanging out" during lunch. They fit right in, as this is not your average school. Go Mikey and Renee!

Interested in making a difference in the environment?
  • San Francisco Bay Area Bike to work day: May 14, 2009. Link: http://www.sfbike.org/?btwd
  • Earth Day Activities and Events: http://www.earthday.gov/
  • Start an environmental club in your school or community

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