Newtown Middle School students in the Lexus Eco Challenge group The Mean Green Machines recently met with their school principal and Interim Superintendent of Schools John Reed to discuss future plans for their group’s project.
Team members of the Mean Green Machines are Nicole Germak, Romy Gold, Daniel Grosso, Dylan Sock, Joshua Dunn, and Cassidy Kortze.
The Mean Green Machines, according to a release from the group, were one of 32 teams from across the country to earn $10,000 in scholarships and grants in the Lexus Eco Challenge, an educational program and contest that inspires and empowers young people to learn about the environment and take action to improve it. The Newtown Middle School team is now qualified to participate in the Final Challenge for a chance at one of two $30,000 grand prizes, according to the release.
The Mean Green Machine’s entry into the Lexus Eco Challenge focused on planting trees to purify the air by releasing oxygen.
For each of the challenges of the Lexus Eco Challenge, teams are required to define an environmental issue that is important to them, develop an action plan to address the issue, implement the plan, and report on the results.
When meeting with Dr Reed and NMS Principal Thomas Einhorn, the group explained their project.
The Mean Green Machines partnered with the Newtown Forest Association and planted trees. Now, the group said, the students are focusing their efforts on promoting tree planting. The group has created multiple social media sites and a blog to help spread its message.
The students told Dr Reed that they plan to donate their first round winnings to landscaping at the new Sandy Hook School, and also asked the superintendent what he would suggest they do with possible future winnings.
Mr Einhorn also said the middle school chose to give money the students earned for the school by winning at the state level of the Lexus Eco Challenge to the Sandy Hook School landscaping project.
“We’ve decided to pool that money back to the students so they can have a little bit more of a robust amount of money to donate for this cause,” Mr Einhorn said. “It could be a substantial amount of money.”
During the meeting with the students, Dr Reed explained how the group’s possible donations could be used for the driveway that will eventually lead to the new Sandy Hook School.
“There’s going to be a tremendous opportunity to do very important landscaping,” Dr Reed said.
The superintendent also said he would connect the Mean Green Machines with the Sandy Hook School project architect.
“There are going to be so many possibilities at that new school to put in trees in an intelligent way,” Dr Reed said. “I think your first inclination is probably a wise inclination.”
The rebuilding of Sandy Hook School, Dr Reed said, is a community venture, saying in a way the school is a gift to the town from all of the residents of Connecticut.
“I would be very supportive of [the project], and if you want to go ahead I think the next step is for me to communicate that to the architectural firm,” Dr Reed said.
“We are so proud of our students,” Mr Einhorn said in the release. “They have given of their time to make our community and world a better place. We have been most impressed with how seriously our students have dedicated themselves to this worthwhile challenge. It is wonderful to see the passion they have in making our corner of the earth a little greener.”
Dr Reed made sure to ask the students how they felt about completing their project, and each of the students said it was never about the money. Many of the students said they were unaware there would be a monetary award. All of the members of the Mean Green Machines told Dr Reed they completed their project for the community.
One of the school district’s goals, Dr Reed said, is to produce students who find ways to give back to the community throughout their lives.
“So you’re off to a great start,” Dr Reed told the group.
The winners of the Final Challenge round of the Lexus Eco Challenge will be announced in February.
For more information on the Lexus Eco Challenge, visit www.scholastic.com/lexus.
For more information on the Mean Green Machines, visit the group’s blog www.themeangreenmachines.simplesite.com, follow the group on Instagram @themeangreenmachines, or follow the group @treesong on Twitter.