Creating Change Around Campus

Bernard Chen, Asst. News Editor

This year, the four AP Environmental Science classes at Diamond Bar High School will be xeriscaping, building solar
carports, holding a T-shirt recycling drive, and reducing paper usage, as part of projects APES classes plan each year.

The project, which is part of each students’ grade, is planned and completed by classes themselves. Every class elects a president who then assigns various other positions and leaders.

Xeriscaping is the focus of teacher David Hong’s third period class. Nicknamed Xeri, the project promotes replacing non-native plants, such as grass and turf, with indigenous species native to our area. The class will be attempting to convert grassy areas on the DBHS campus to areas with succulents and other more drought-resistant plants.

The inspiration for the project came from a brief mention of it in the APES textbook. The Metropolitan Water District is also giving a rebate on removing grass to promote water conservation, so it was the most financially realistic idea for the class.

“[Other ideas] just seemed like they would be way too expensive or impractical, and this definitely seemed like one of the most practical ones, while also covering the issue of water conversation, which is so important, especially because we’re in a drought,” senior Ruben Reyes Jr., the project’s president, said.

The project team has spoken with Principal Catherine Real and is waiting to hear back from the school district to see whether the project is approved. Xeri also has a website, on which the class plans to release educational materials. For example, the team might upload a story book which can be brought to elementary schools in an effort to educate the youth on water conservation. Reyes hopes to have some of the project’s xeriscaping done on campus by May, when he and other students of the class graduate.

Meanwhile, Greg Valor’s period four APES class plans on implementing stations in DBHS’ parking lot to provide shade, generate electricity, and “mitigate the effects of the urban heating iron.” The problem the class found with the school was that there was little to no shade in the parking lot and that most of the sun’s energy was being absorbed into the concrete or into the cars, thus wasting heat and energy.

“The inspiration for the project came from just looking out into our school parking lot and noticing a problem with a very viable solution. Our idea was just to harness that energy and turn it into usable electricity,” senior campaign president Saakib Akbany said via Facebook.

While executing this project would involve a tremendous effort, it would require an even bigger budget. As a result, Akbany puts fundraising as the class’ top priority. Akbany contacted U.S. Representative Ed Royce, whom he met in a congressional trip in Washington, D.C., and Royce said that he would be more than happy to help the project with grants.

Plastic conservation is Valor’s first period’s concentration. The class plans to hold a T-shirt drive in which participants donate old shirts that would be recycled into plastic grocery bags.

“We are still in the beginning stages of the project, but we are mapping out everything that we need to do, and we will kick off as soon as we find an exact date for our T-shirt drive,” junior president April Song said via Facebook.
In the future, Song hopes to have a lasting impact on the environment, possibly by holding annual T-shirt recycling events. In addition, the class plans on donating the reusable bags to local supermarkets in the process.

Theresa Hebert’s second period class is also focusing on the idea of recycling and conservation, but with paper instead of cloth. The project, titled Leaf the Paper Behind, looks to reduce paper usage on campus and raise awareness of the amount of paper that is used on campus.

“We are working on many things, but the main focus is on our social media outlets, scheduling meetings with school administrators to pitch our ideas, and think of ideas about fundraising,” senior president Daniel Shin said via Facebook.

The purpose of the project is to raise student awareness of environmental issues, get students interested in environmental sciences and implement a solution for issues that will last. Valor, who teaches two of the four classes, has even received emails from previous APES students in appreciation for the project. Some past students have even changed their major to Environmental Sciences because of their experience from these projects.
“My whole goal, is to get them environmentally aware. It’s all run by the students; they do everything. It’s neat to see them take charge and go for it,” Valor said.