The Pennsbury High School Environmental Science Club, led by faculty advisor, Kristen Realdine, was recognized recently by the Lower Makefield Township Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) and the township’s Board of Supervisors for the club’s impressive work on reducing environmental waste and advancing the installation of water refill stations at the two high school campuses. The recognition – called the Environmental Stewardship Award – also came with a $500 cash prize from the township, which will be put toward the club’s continuing efforts.
Club leader and PHS senior, Devisree Tallapaneni, addressed the Board of Supervisors to explain the group’s mission and achievements to date: “As the global environmental crisis becomes more and more relevant, news and images of the devastating effects of climate change and pollution are flooding the media. Pennsbury’s Environmental Club has long acknowledged these problems and has attempted to find viable solutions to combat them. Beginning in 2017, our club has introduced water bottle refill stations to our high school in an effort to reduce the use of plastic bottles. Having fundraised extensively each year since then, we have attained six refill stations at our West campus and two at our East campus. To further promote the use of these stations, our club held a contest among C period classes. The contest rewarded the use of refillable bottles and discouraged the use of plastic ones via a point system where the class with the highest points earned a pizza party and the class with least points received reusable straws. We have also worked as a club to improve our local community by participating in various clean-ups each year. Of particular note are our bi-annual beach sweeps held at Belmar, which is an event open to the entire school. This past fall, a substantial number of students worked alongside club members to clean up along the boardwalk and shore. The sight of plastic pieces and wrappers strewn across the beach greets us every year, but we do not let that discourage us. If anything, it is a sign that there is still more work to do. And our club knows that this work does not get done simply by waiting for the right opportunity to complete it, but by creating those opportunities ourselves.”
She continued, “We intend to utilize this generous grant to further conduct activities similar to the clean-ups and pursue our goals. Our main objective for this year is to introduce water bottle refilling stations to every hallway in Pennsbury High School. And for giving us this incredible opportunity to make this goal a reality, we have many we need to thank. Thank you to Principal Lisa Becker and Assistant Principal Patti Steckroat for both your consistent support and for ordering the refill stations for the high school! Thank you also, to Assistant Principal Justine McEachern and Superintendent Dr. William Gretzula, for supporting us and for nominating our club for this grant! And of course, thank you to Ms. Realdine for your continuous help with all of our projects and for always encouraging us to strive for bigger goals. Finally, thank you to Jim Bray, the Lower Makefield Environmental Advisory Council, and all of you [Supervisors]! We will put the money towards making our community cleaner and more sustainable.”
Mr. Bray followed up after the meeting: “Seeing firsthand the enthusiasm of these young adults gives you faith that the system is working and that our future is in good hands. And I know the students were very pleased that their efforts have been recognized by LMT. Again, we would like to thank the Board of Supervisors for their generosity in funding this award.” The EAC developed the Environmental Stewardship Award in 2008 to recognize a group, business, or individual whose accomplishments have contributed positively to the environment and to the Lower Makefield community.
“It was such a great experience for them,” said Ms. Realdine.