A win for the environment

Most students can only dream of getting paid for doing school work, but a group of AP Environmental students have done just that. The group (Erin Brock (11), Madison Gilbert (12), Hannah Hampton (11), Meagan Heaney (12), Amanda Lupardus (12), Lexi Pesek and Maureen Prunty (11)) participated in the Lexus Eco Challenge.

“A colleague from Parkway North told me about his AP Biology/Envirothon students being  involved in the Lexus Eco Challenge and I thought it was great,” Mrs. Dianne Johnson, AP Environmental teacher, said. “His students won the challenge, and I remember thinking how exciting that would be for our students.”

After hearing about the challenge, she decided to inform her students of the opportunity that they could have for their school projects.

“Part of the AP Environmental curriculum is fieldwork and long-term projects,” Mrs. Johnson said. “I thought if my students were going to do a project, why not allow them to enter it in the eco challenge if they wanted.”

One group took up the challenge, the first step of many.

“Our group decided to enter the Lexus Eco Challenge,” Gilbert. “The first stage is a project that in some way impacts your community and the land, air or water quality. We entered our project as to remove bush honeysuckle, an invasive species that our teacher told us about.”

Agreeing on the way that they would improve the community’s land meant it was time to take action.

“We all got together and decided what each of us would do,” Pesek said. “We all did equal amount of work and helped evenly by dividing up the jobs of creating a PowerPoint, movie and organizing the project.”

This classwork extended beyond the classroom.

“Some of us were already friends previously and had common interests,” Brock said. “We all knew each other, and I think it really helped us work better together.”

After the completing the project and entering it into the challenge, the group was selected as a recipient for a financial award given by Lexus to the challenge.

“I went from shocked and speechless to excited and proud,” Mrs. Johnson said. “$1,000 goes the students directly, $1,000 for my classroom and $2,000 to the school. The students and I have just started talking about the $1,000 for the classroom. We would like to get electronic tablets to use in class.”

The members of the group were just as happy to receive the award, especially because they didn’t expect it.

“It was really surprising at first because we didn’t enter the competition because we expected our project would win, we just wanted to enter in order to finish out our project,” Lupardus said. “But it was an awesome reward! I haven’t decided entirely what I want to do with my money. I’m hoping I’ll be able to save some of it, but I may end up shopping.”

Winning the Lexus Eco Challenge and receiving the financial award was the product of hard work from a group of AP Environmental students showing that sometimes it pays to go to school.