HomeCherry Hill NewsRosa Middle School is team climate change

Rosa Middle School is team climate change

Rosa students place third in the New Jersey Student Climate Challenge this year

Emily Liu/The Sun
Students from Rosa Middle School’s Climate Action and Sustainability Team explained their efforts during a recentl township council meeting on June 10.

Rosa Middle School Assistant Principal Albert Morales started a Climate Action and Sustainability Team (CAST) last year alongside club advisor Skye Silverstein, an effort to give Cherry Hill students a way and place to do something about climate change.

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“I was struggling with climate anxiety myself, personally,” said Morales, the team’s advisor. “And the way I dealt with it was by taking action.”

He and his daughter went to Minneapolis in 2019 to be trained by Al Gore and the Climate Reality, a program led by the former U.S. vice president that sponsors talks on climate change in a variety of settings.

“I feel it’s critically important as we educate students about climate change to emphasize the importance and value of actually taking action, and that in taking action, we can kind of cope with some of the distress we feel when we learn about these issues that are quite serious,” Morales noted.

A group of CAST students impressed township council at its June 10 meeting when they gave native garden kits to members and residents in attendance, encouraging composting and the planting of native garden plants to benefit insects and the Monarch butterfly populations.

The CAST won first place last year and third place this year among top middle schools represented in the New Jersey Student Climate Challenge. The program is open to grades six through 12 and is sponsored by Atlantic City Electric, the Drumthwacket Foundation and Sustainable Jersey. CAST members were recognized at a recent awards ceremony and earned $500 for a school grant.

Special to The Sun
Rosa Middle School’s CAST members were honored at a recent ceremony for placing third among middle school climate change projects.

Team members include the following students: Tamara Abboud, Romeo Anselm, Makayla Becker, Nicolas Bowers, Aaleya Ganguly, Jenna Huang, Anisha Katakamsetty, Panayiota Konidaris, Julia Kumolova, Tekla Managadze, Vasisth Medavarapu, Molly Nhu, Samaira Nyla, Max Ownens, Ada Rein, Chloe Wang, Kelvin Williams, Catherine Yao.

This year’s year-long CAST project at Rosa focused on improving climate literacy and action. Students worked together to produce three newsletters that will educate the student body and community on various climate change issues.

“Oftentimes, we think about how we can adorn our homes with these beautiful shrubs and bushes and trees,” Morales explained at the council meeting, “and they flower and they smell good, but they don’t provide any ecological services for our native organisms. And that’s what’s leading to population decline among insects and Monarch butterflies.”

According to eighth grader Makayla Becker, it was initially a challenge to get students writing on climate change. But they eventually explored themes related to the book “Two Degrees,” by Alan Gratz, about polar bears, composting, sea turtles and sustainable tourism.

In spite of the sometimes troubling topic, the students felt hopeful about the future.

Rosa student Samaira Nyla created a video documentary on marine and plastic pollution and what can be done to combat it, and talked about effects on aquatic life and humans that can be reversed by individuals and corporations.

“My main takeaway from my project was that even if the state of marine pollution is really bad currently,” she noted, “there are things we can do to fix it, and there is hope for the future if corporations, governments and even regular people do things to help prevent this pollution from escalating.”

Seventh grader Tekla Managadze’s climate change project focused on greenhouse gases and how they affect health, habits and crops. If we don’t do something about it, Managadze maintained, the global temperature will rise and there will be a point of no return.

Yet eighth grader Anisha Katakamsetty is thinking positively, despite corporations she believes put profits over climate change.

“I do feel hopeful,” she acknowleged, “because we’re not that close to climate change not being a problem that we can solve, because there are still people who are still talking about (it) and there are multiple steps we can take in order to stop climate change from happening and destroying our planet Earth.

“The point of the profit is to use it,” Katakamsetty added, “but if there’s no planet Earth, then you can’t really use that profit. … But there are also people who are taking action against this. Some companies are … reducing the amount of their carbon footprint, so I feel like there’s some hope that we could turn this around.”

The CAST’s video submission can be found at https://tinyurl.com/4x9vxy2p.

To learn more about homegrown national parks, visit https://homegrownnationalpark.org. To learn more about the New Jersey Student Climate Challenge, visit https://www.sustainablejerseyschools.com/events/nj-student-climate-challenge/.

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