Los Altos High recognized for sustainability

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Students arrive at Los Altos High School last week by bicycle. The large number of students who get to school without using a car is a factor in the school being named a Green Ribbon School.

For years, Los Altos High School has worked to be environmentally friendly. Now, the school has the recognition from the state to prove it.

The California Department of Education recently named Los Altos High School a Green Ribbon School at the silver level. The award is comprehensive, recognizing Los Altos High’s environmental impact across different areas.

The award has three pillars: reducing environmental impact and costs; improving the health and wellness of schools, students and staff; and providing effective environmental education.

Los Altos High senior Anya Gupta spearheaded the project, with help from science teacher Greg Stoehr, assistant principal Galen Rosenberg and facilities coordinator Mike Woodworth.

Gupta also helps lead the Green Team, a club on campus that works to make the school more sustainable.

The completed application was 36 pages long and covered everything from the school’s solar panels to the number of students who walk, bike and skateboard to school.

“It was a very long application, so getting recognition was definitely rewarding,” Gupta said.

Stoehr originally heard about the award from Principal Wynne Satterwhite. Although there was a tight deadline and the application was labor intensive, Stoehr decided it was worth the effort.

“I thought we could pull it off because we do a lot of green work and projects,” Stoehr said.

Both Stoehr and Gupta said they were impressed by how many different areas the application touched on.

Gupta said she learned the school’s buildings are painted particular colors to reflect light and about the procedures used to store chemicals for science classes.

Ultimately though, the process was also an opportunity to identify areas for future improvement. Stoehr hopes to include more students in campus sustainability projects and to get more students enrolled in environmental classes.

Although Gupta will soon graduate, she wants the Green Team to tackle the distribution of single-use plastic drink bottles on campus.

“This is so great, but this just proves how much we are able to do,” Gupta said of the award. “It’s just a baseline for all that we’re able to achieve.”

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