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Norwalk-La Mirada Unified marked its 10th Annual “Zero Emissions: Bike, Walk to School Day” by showcasing a student-built, all-electric vehicle on April 24 at La Mirada High School.

It was all part of the District’s Earth Day celebration, where students, district and community members came together to raise awareness for the threat that tailpipe emissions pose to the environment.

Planned by La Mirada High’s Model United Nations/Environment Programme, the event aimed to reduce the school’s carbon footprint by encouraging students and staff say “no” to gasoline-based automotive transportation by walking, biking, or riding in zero-emission vehicles for the day. Participants submitted pledge forms detailing the number of miles walked/biked for the day, which will enable students to calculate how many CO2 pounds were offset by their efforts.

Teachers greeted students walking and biking to school in support of the cause, holding signs proclaiming “No to Vehicles Today,” and awarded pedometers, pencils, water bottles, bike bells and lights for night riding to participating students.

“This was a great opportunity to heighten environmental awareness not only at La Mirada High, but throughout our entire community,” NLMUSD Board of Education President Jesse Urquidi said. “Congratulations to the La Mirada students for organizing an exciting event to commemorate Earth Day. I’m proud of their interest in green technology and their environmental activism.”

The event also included a display of “Clean Cars,” including one built right on campus.

Members of La Mirada High’s Electric Vehicle Club test drove their student-built, highway-ready electric vehicle in the school’s front parking lot. The only sound as the engine switched on were shouts and applause from fellow students, teachers and community members as they watched the car circle the parking lot.

Using funds from a $20,000 grant from the California Teachers Association Green Jobs Project, the EV Club purchased a “Switch vehicle kit” and students built the vehicle in after-school sessions under the direction of Southern California Electric Vehicle Association President Jim McCarty, Assistant Principal Joseph Powers, and ROP EV instructor Ilya Berkan. Past years’ Earth Day events have featured student-built solar and electric powered bikes and electric go-carts, but this was the first year an electric car was assembled.

“They did a terrific job. It’s great to see students learning how electric engines work and actually gaining job skills for the green tech industry,” McCarty said.

“Building the Switch EV was not only an exciting project for these students, it will provide a hands-on experience with this technology for future students, since it can be  assembled and dis-assembled each year,” said La Mirada High teacher and EV Club adviser Norma Williamson, who secured the grant.

Interim Superintendent Shattuck said plans are underway for a formal ROP electric vehicle class to be offered to students next year.

“This project exemplifies our District’s commitment to opening all kinds of pathways to exciting and in-demand careers for our students,” Shattuck said.

As for the future of La Mirada’s Switch EV, the students hope to license it with the DMV and drive it on the highway – that is before it gets taken apart for next year’s students to re-assemble.