Saving the school one student at a time

Saving the school one student at a time

Reagan Blackwell, Editor-in-Chief

How much energy does a hand dryer use during an average school day? How high is the electric bill for the floodlights on the field?  What ways can Hamilton reduce pollution? These are just a few questions that members of the club Students for Sustainable Schools tackle every week.  With their prime goal of conserving energy and reusing as many resources as possible, students of all grades in the club ban together to brainstorm innovative ways to make Hamilton High a green and well-oiled machine.

This is the club’s first year on campus and students meet up after school on Tuesdays in C200.   Students for Sustainable Schools is led by president Bharath Tata (11), who sees long-term potential for the projects and its members.

“Our mission is to create a more sustainable and efficient school through the efforts of like-minded students,” said Bharath.  “We are taking charge of the recycling program for this school of nearly thirty-six hundred teens, working to reduce use of paper and plastic in classrooms and the cafeteria, reducing energy consumption and carbon footprints, along with increasing general awareness about sustainability and the necessity to act now.”

With close to sixty members, the club is divided into three committees: paper, plastic and energy.  Within each committee, the students research and propose new projects to improve on the use of their resources on campus.  The paper committee, led by junior Shiv Shav, is finding alternative options for reusing paper and adding more recycling bins around the school.

James Fusaro (11), head of the plastic committee, organized his team in the alcove where they discussed their upcoming projects. 

Sowmya Ravi (11) described the committee’s role in the club saying, “We try and find solutions to end plastic waste.  We research and decide what kinds of plastics are safest to use.”

Club member Shanika Habib (10) explained that the club requires pitching solutions to the club saying, “We make PowerPoint projects within small groups and present them to all the committees.  An example is ‘How different plastics cause diseases.’”

AP English teacher Mr. Patrick Whorton is the club’s current sponsor who was immediately on board with the student’s ideas.

“I was more than happy to sponsor this club for a simple reason: I consider myself an activist, and an environmentalist,” said Whorton.  “As such, I have a responsibility to pursue any avenue with a goal of preserving the environment.  I knew the student who started this club was sincere in his efforts to make it work, do the necessary footwork, grow the club membership, and commit to making it work—and he has.”

Although the goals of the club may seem difficult to achieve on a campus as large as Hamilton’s, the actions of the members prove otherwise.

“Recently, we have teamed up with Intel to start a electronic waste recycling initiative for our school,” said Bharath. “So many of us see things go wasted or mishandled everyday, which is why I started this club; it is a place to make your voice heard and your goals accomplished!”

The upcoming E-waste drive (electronic waste drive) will be held during third quarter where all fourth hours will be collecting gently used electronics and cords such as phones, computers, keyboards, chargers and headphones.  But the club is not stopping there.  Members are making plans with the hope of maintain the school’s efficiency.

“In the near future we will begin a composting program and the transition to a (hopefully) waste-free school with TerraCycle,” said Bharath.

Students for Sustainable Schools club is still accepting new members and is hoping to continue their efforts the following year as well.  Who knows, these students may be the trailblazers for environmental innovation in this generation’s future.