MIAMI — Students, alumni and proud supporters of Miami Northwestern Senior High are known to boast their school colors of blue and gold. Now they can be proud of another color: green.
Under the guidance of Monica Carrasco, a sixth-year Northwestern instructor who teaches advance placement Environmental classes, the environmental club entered a video into the “Green My School” contest sponsored by CBS and EcoMedia—and won it.
The students were shocked by the outcome, which entitles the school to $250,000 in projects and services to create a green school—a healthy environment that facilitates learning while conserving energy, resources and money, according to EcoMedia’s website.
“People know the school just for football and sports and negative things,” said Roshemia Peterson, a 16-year-old junior at Northwestern, regarding the school’s reputation for multiple state football championships and low state academic test scores. “Now they can know us as a school that can change the world—it’s a start.”
Dominique Roy, also a junior, developed the concept for the school’s submission, “Waiting on the World to Change”—a song by John Mayer.
“I am a musician here,” said Roy, a first-year transfer student to Northwestern. “It was the first song that came to me. The song really inspired me.”
While their instructor, Carrasco, scripted the video for each student to talk about the impact that going green would have on their school and home communities, Roy hand-painted white T-shirts for each student to wear during the presentation, donning the song’s title.
“I was surprised, because we never thought we would win,” said Roy. “When we saw the other schools’ videos, we thought our doesn’t have anything on theirs.”
She continued: “We were going against MAST [Academy]. Their school is founded on science programs.”
The other finalists in the contest were Phyllis Ruth Miller Elementary School, Young Men’s Preparatory Academy, MAST Academy and George Washington Carver Middle School.
The contest was judged by a national committee of EcoMedia’s advisory board, non-profit participants, sponsors and local media partners, said Paul Polizzotto, CEO and founder of EcoMedia.
The quality of the submission; the school’s enthusiasm and the impact the proposed technologies would make was the combination that gave Northwestern the winning entry, said Polizzotto, who oversees the marketing and public relations services that his company offers.
“Green My School” was a first-time contest conducted in Miami, San Francisco and Chicago to understand what the national impact would be, Polizzotto said.
“Statistics are overwhelming that when you put students in greener and healthier classrooms, attendance increases, test scores increase and the overall learning environment is improved,” he said.
Northwestern’s environmental club began at the start of this school year. Carrasco corralled the energy of 50 to 60 students to begin the school’s recycling effort.
“They go class-by-class every day and collect paper, bottles and cans,” said the 12-year teaching veteran. “We’ve had nearly 100-percent participation and cooperation.”
By the start of next school year, eco-friendly products such as LED light bulbs, cleaning supplies and hand dryers will be installed at Northwestern. Improvements such as plant gardens and vertical wind turbines to generate electricity are slated for completion, said Carrasco, who is passionate about improving the environment.
“We help people by fixing the environment,” said Carrasco, who has master’s degrees in science education and marine environmental science. “We’re all interconnected with the environment and all the other species. We can make this planet a better place to live in by taking care of it.”