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Cerritos’ Bragg Elementary School Wins Grades of Green Environmental Grand Prize Award

The Bragg Elementary Green Team.



Recently, Grades of Green, an international nonprofit organization that supports student-led environmental projects, awarded Bragg Elementary School’s Green Team their Grand Prize to recognize the team’s work to spread environmental awareness across the ABC Unified School District and for reducing the use of single-use water bottles on campus. The award comes with a $1,000 Eco-Grant to be used on future projects. Bragg Elementary beat out more than 85 participating student teams, many of which consisted of students from High Schools and Middle Schools.

“This is an absolutely unprecedented win,” said the school’s Grades of Green Advisor, Cathy Procopio. “This is the first time we’ve had a student team win our Grand Prize Eco-Grant after winning an award for their last project. The entire Bragg Elementary community should be so proud of this incredibly dedicated team!” Last semester during Grades of Green’s 2019 Water Campaign project, the Bragg Green Team won the Community Changemaker Award which came with $500 in grant funds.

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. Now, the team amounts to more than 50 students spanning several grades.

This semester, the Green Team expanded the target of their project to include the other schools in the ABC Unified School District. The Bragg Green Team took the lessons they learned while completing their award-winning project last fall and developed an expansive education campaign about the problems caused by single-use plastic. The students produced educational posters, presentations for the PTA and other advocacy materials to inspire their school community to stop using single-use plastic bottles. The students began to work closely with the school district to produce videos that promote environmental action and the creation of other Green Teams at schools throughout the district.

“I continue to be amazed by these students and their compassion for one another and for the environment,” said Ms. Flores. “Even while overcoming the struggles that come with adjusting to Stay-at-Home orders, the students continued to work diligently on their Grades of Green project.”

After the Stay-at-Home orders went into effect in response to the coronavirus, the Bragg Green Team continued to advocate for the environment. The students worked together virtually to produce a “Green Team in Quarantine” video with tips for reducing and upcycling plastics from home.

The Bragg Green Team’s message has gone beyond just the Bragg Elementary School campus. Earlier this school year, the students made an impassioned presentation to the ABC Unified School District Board of Education. As a result, the Board of Education no longer uses single-use water bottles at its meeting.

“We are so proud of the Bragg Green Team and what they have accomplished,” said Superintendent Dr. Mary Sieu. “They have done so much this school year, making changes to not only the culture of Bragg Elementary School, but to our district as well. All I can say is congratulations and job well done!”

The Bragg Green Team was inspired to action by participating in Grades of Green’s Waste 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 has done it again!” said Kim Siehl, the Grades of Green’s Executive Director. “We’re so impressed by these students’ ongoing passion for the environment. To see them learn from their last campaign project and then go above-and-beyond to this extent warms my heart. The Bragg Green Team proves that, by empowering students to turn their passion into ongoing environmental action, they’re able to make long-lasting community impact.”