On February 6, 2015, Environmental Charter High School hosted its annual Community Forum, a culmination of the month-long intersession project, during which students work in interdisciplinary grade-level teams to answer questions like “What is the American Dream and is it attainable in my community?” and “What is progress, and how can it be sustained?”
One of the highlights of this school year’s intersession was the 9th grade students’ project on, “Quality of Life: Sustainable Design + Urban Planning.” Five teams of ECHS freshmen designed cities set in one of the following local communities: Big Bear, Hermosa Beach, Lawndale, Redondo Beach or Santa Monica. Each team created a 3-D model of their ideal community, researching and determining—among other things—scale and elevation, aesthetics, community, green technologies and equity investments.
Each team, comprised of about 25 students, competed for best project. Teams created multimedia presentations and addressed an audience of classmates, proud parents and teachers. A panel of distinguished and knowledgeable judges critiqued and scored the presentations. The panel members ranged from LEED-accredited architects and happiness specialists to high-ranking elected officials, such as Gardena Mayor Paul Tanaka, Inglewood City Councilman Ralph Franklin and Lawndale City Councilman Jim Osborne.
The energy on the campus that day was palpable as the students exuded confidence and professionalism.
I was impressed with the amount of focus on investments and design. The presentations were all very good. The students demonstrated confidence beyond their rehearsed presentations, showed how great their knowledge was and how their research efforts paid off.
-Paul Tanaka, Mayor of Gardena
I found it to be rewarding to see these young minds thinking about the present and the future. With technology constantly evolving, it is great to see our youth understanding it and taking a proactive role, thinking as an individual and working together in a team concept to coordinate their ideas and efforts.
-Ralph Franklin, Inglewood Councilman
I found the presentations very related to what I do at South Bay Cities Council of Governance – the correlation between transportation, infrastructure, technology and other urban planning concerns. I liked that the students are exploring and thinking about these issues; they are in tune with the real world. The students were all prepared and were excellent public speakers. They pulled it off well.
-Jim Osborne, Lawndale City Councilman
In addition to learning the nuts and bolts of sustainable design, urban planning and presentation skills, the students learned some softer, yet equally valuable skills, like teamwork. “If one person doesn’t do the work, the rest of the community suffers,” said a 9th grader from the Big Bear team.
While all five teams were praised by the judges, the Hermosa Beach team took first place, Redondo Beach second and Big Bear third. Each winning team won gift certificates to the ECHS Sustain-a-Store.
Elsewhere on campus that day, the 10th graders showcased projects on species called “Change: Museum Exhibits + Presentations,” 11th graders focused on “The American Dream: Social + Economic Development,” and the seniors took on the current hot-button issue of oil drilling in Hermosa Beach, “Why My Community Needs Me: Hermosa Oil Drilling Project.”
See what Hawthorne Press Tribune had to say about the event!
Photos by David Montejano and Audrey Mcgee