Students help community


Leader Board of Parkway High Schools as of Jan. 31. Courtesy of Parkway Sustainable Schools Challenge.

Athena Stamos, Editor-in-Chief

Students can participate in a program called the Sustainable Schools Challenge through Parkway that records activities regarding the community and environment. This challenge is open to all Parkway students, staff, and faculty members. Leading schools will earn cash prizes.

“I got involved in this project because I really care about our environment and feel that we need to do more to help it and that we really need to step our game up,” senior Emily Ortmann said.

Junior Kyle DuPerrett and Ortmann both got involved in this project through her Spark! Teacher, Meredith Jacques.

“I feel like schools, since they have the job of teaching, and do so for 12-13 years, should take the lead in sustainability and environmental concerns with students,” DuPerrett said.

Once Jacques discussed the purpose behind the project with Ortmann, it is “what really drove me to participate in it.”

There are six main focuses in this challenge: Energy Efficiency, Water Conservation, Waste Reduction, Sustainable Outdoor Environment, Sustainability Learning, and Health and Wellness.

“I am very passionate about the environment to I am very excited to do it,” senior Maggie Murrell said.

Murrell got involved with this program through her AP Environmental Science class taught by Shana Kelley.

“I am most interested in the topic of pollution, specifically plastic pollution,” Murrell said. “I think there are many promising alternatives that need to be considered.”

Ortmann is specifically interested in sustainable food whether it’s reusable containers or proper food waste disposal or even just eliminating plastic straws.

“I think plastic and sustainability in the food industry is one of the biggest problems that people don’t even think about, and it needs to be addressed,” Ortmann said.

Participants must keep track and submit their activities to earn points.

“I mostly keep to myself, I don’t enjoy the competition for seeing who has the most service work for the hours,” DuPerrett said.

DuPerrett frequently volunteers to maintain parks and trails in his free time. Additionally, he is a fan of reducing plastic waste, composting, and protecting his community. Farming practices and residential and commercial development are also critical according to DuPerrett.

“Since my family has had a farm for over a century,” DuPerrett said. “ I feel like to continue that requires a lot of dedication to the protection of the land.”

Murrell wants to cut back on her electricity usage, shop only at thrift stores, and buy food with less packaging for the challenge.

Ortmann has planned to “work on this personally by being smarter in what I bring for lunch and how I bring it, and also how I shop for food products.”

She will try to raise awareness and come up with possible solutions for the school to use and to provide for the students and staff.

“It’s important to give back to the community because without your community, you wouldn’t be where you are now,” Ortmann said.

Parkway gives credit to the Sustainability Department at San Francisco Unified School District for the idea behind this program.

“It’s where we are from, we need to make sure it is there as healthy as it can be,” DuPerrett said.

Students can sign up via the Parkway Schools website. There is a Google Forms to fill out and record activities through another Google Form document.

“We should give back to it to provide opportunities for other kids so they can have the same and even better experiences that you had,” Ortmann said.

The challenge began Jan. 3 and ends April 30. The school with the most amount of points will win the competition.

“So many people’s lives could be changed forever,” Murrell said.