The state has recognized a group of local high school students for their efforts to spread the word about climate change. Students in the Fremont Union High School District received the 2023 California Green Ribbon Award.
In April 2023, over 500 middle and high school students, teachers, parents, and community members gathered together to learn about solutions to climate change and celebrate positive community progress in environmental sustainability at five Earth Day Festivals held for the first time ever across Fremont Union High School District’s five high schools: Lynbrook High School, Fremont High School, Homestead High Schools, Cupertino High Schools and Monta Vista High School.
The series of events was made possible thanks to a $10,000 grant from Silicon Valley Clean Energy. It was organized by student leaders of the FUHSD Climate Action team. They collaborated with school clubs, local climate organizations and government officials over the course of four months to plan the festivals. The goal was to engage all stakeholders in the FUHSD community in climate action by providing opportunities to explore more creative approaches to sustainability.
The quintet of festivals opened with speeches from over 30 speakers including several government officials. California Senator Dave Cortese, Cupertino Mayor Hung Wei and Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein all spoke. Industry speakers including representatives from Silicon Valley Clean Energy and San Jose Clean Energy, and leaders from local organizations such as Sierra Club and OpenAir Collective also addressed the students.
The events also involved more than 50 local climate organizations including Sunnyvale Urban Forest Advocates, Bike Sunnyvale, 350 Silicon Valley, and Silicon Valley Clean Energy. High school clubs held booths with engaging activities to teach attendees about sustainable practices. For example, Homestead High School junior Jennifer Ren led clubs to run a thrift store to familiarize students with upcycled fashion and create an ongoing trash mural to allow students to investigate how trash inspires creativity in artists while raising awareness of waste management in their own communities.
Homestead High School junior Elisabeth Floyd and senior Radhika Goel spearheaded the FUHSD Climate Action team in June 2022 in collaboration with FUHSD Superintendent Graham Clark. The team is a partnership between FUHSD and Silicon Valley Youth Climate Action and joins the efforts of FUHSD Board of Trustees members, city representatives, and 30 student leaders from all five high schools to execute districtwide environmental sustainability projects. Both Floyd and Goel were named Sunnyvale’s High School Students of the Year for their work in climate action (Floyd in 2023 and Goel in 2021).