Originally posted on National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Blog
BY PIA GENTAPANAN
My name is Pia Gentapanan and I am a sophomore at Environmental Charter High School (ECHS). I first heard about ECHS from the teachers at my middle school. My family and I chose to attend because of all the great things we’d heard, such as the college preparatory focus, academic rigor and the very small, yet comfortable learning environment; I can vouch for that. Along with working hard to meet our college requirements, we learn about environmental issues and create solutions that are incorporated into our classes.
Through courses like Environmental Science (9th grade year) and Green Ambassadors (10th grade year), we are able to take a deep dive into issues such as climate change, deforestation, and carbon emissions; the list goes on. Not only do we learn explicitly about the environment and ecosystems in those classes, but sustainability is often integrated into our other classes as well. When listening to a lecture in History, we not only learn about the Earth itself but discuss environmental racism and the people that are affected. When researching in Biology, we find connections between carbon emissions, air pollution, and asthma. When reading in English, we skim through articles about negative impacts that street pollution, water contamination and health problems have on the quality of life in low-income communities. The point is that the environment is in everything we talk about, whether we intend to talk about it or not.
Through this environmental education lens at ECHS, students begin to spread the message and think twice about their existing habits and behaviors such as picking up the single-use plastic bottle everyday. I believe it is very important for my peers and I to adopt these personal habits because every small eco-friendly change is still a change. When multiple people make that small change, it becomes a significant change. One thing I love and appreciate about the environmental focus at my school is that it sheds a light on issues that changed my perspectives and opened my mind. Before, I knew close to nothing about the issues that impact my own community but now, I care about the environment and want to be a part of the significant change.
Pia Gentapanan is a sophomore at ECHS and is involved in the Asian American Student Alliance and the Arab American Union. She loves math and biology and is pursuing her passion to work in the medical field someday.