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Bragg Elementary School’s Green Team Wins Environmental Award

STAFF REPORT

MEMBERS OF THE BRAGG GREEN TEAM are recognized by Grades of Green for their work in reducing the use of single-use plastic water bottles on campus. Due to their outreach on campus, they expect a reduction of over 12,000 plastic single-use water bottles this year. Photo courtesy ABCUSD.

Recently, Grades of Green, an international nonprofit organization that supports student-led environmental projects, recognized Bragg Elementary School’s Green Team as Best Community Changemaker for their work on reducing the use of single-use water bottles on campus. This recognition comes with a $500 in grant funds to be used on future projects. The school beat out over 100 other applicants from across the world.

 “Bragg Elementary should be very proud,” said the school’s Grades of Green Mentor, Cathy Procopio. “They beat out not only other schools but high school kids from all over the country and world to get this award.”

 Fifth-grade teacher Kerry Flores had the idea to start the Green Team. She pulled together a group of students who wanted to work on a recycling project. From there, the students began leading the charge to make a change on their campus.

 The Green Team brainstormed many ideas, finally deciding on reducing the use of single-use plastic water bottles on campus. 

The students began working on defining the problem by conducting a trash audit, surveying students and school staff, as well as researching the impact these water bottles have on the environment. 

After a rigorous education campaign, the Green Team began seeing an impact. 

In just a few months, they had cut the number of single-use water bottles brought to school by students by more than half, reducing the annual usage of these water bottles from 28,000 per year to 12,600 per year. 

They not only educated students but staff as well with the school’s principal, Mr. Heilig, ending the use of single-use water bottles at staff meetings and events. The school also began selling Bragg Bobcat branded, reusable water bottles at $5 each, with the funds going back to the Green Team for future projects.

 “I’m so proud of these students and their compassion,” said Ms. Flores. “They regularly bring me to tears with their constant consideration for others. They’ve given up recess time to look through trash and routinely researched environmental issues on their own time.”

 Principal Heilig recognized the Green Team at the first assembly of 2020, presenting the group with a banner and brought the entire Green Team on stage to celebrate this accomplishment.

“We can’t wait to see what Bragg’s Green Team does next,” said Superintendent Dr. Mary Sieu. “We do know it will be something that continues to bring change to not only Bragg Elementary School, but to the community.”

The Bragg Green Team was inspired to action by participating in Grades of Green’s Water Campaign – Reduce Plastics program in which student leaders launch environmentally-focused campaigns around the globe with Grades of Greens’ support. 

When a student team joins a campaign, they are paired with a Grades of Green mentor who provides personal guidance, research and leadership coaching. 

Participating student teams gain access to webinars featuring environmental experts, the opportunity to connect with other Grades of Green students around the world, and the chance to earn eco-grants – like the one the Bragg team won – to extend the impact of their environmental project. Grades of Green provides student teams with these services at no cost. 

“The team at Bragg Elementary is a perfect example of the student leaders we are excited to mentor and empower,” said Kim Siehl, the Grades of Green’s Executive director. “These students are clearly dedicated to keeping their environment clean and are passionate about helping their school community become more eco-conscious by bringing about lasting change.”

HOW CAN STUDENTS GET INVOLVED WITH GRADES OF GREEN? 

Are you a student who would like to get involved or do you know of one? Find more information and sign up your student team at www.gradesofgreen.org

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