Jeff Philip (back middle in beige shirt) of the Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 stands with Tesla STEM High students while they are honored for their “Schools Under 2C” project on this spring. STEM instructors are also pictured at the ceremony at the Redmond school. Courtesy of Jon Knorr

Jeff Philip (back middle in beige shirt) of the Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 stands with Tesla STEM High students while they are honored for their “Schools Under 2C” project on this spring. STEM instructors are also pictured at the ceremony at the Redmond school. Courtesy of Jon Knorr

Tesla STEM’s Schools Under 2C program exceeds expectations

For the past year, students at Redmond’s Tesla STEM High School have been hard at work designing and implementing a program to reduce the school’s carbon footprint.

Since it kicked into high gear last February, the school has been able to reduce its total carbon output by 1 ton a month and has gained national acclaim along the way.

On a recent afternoon, senior Bryn Allesina-McGrory and junior Roshan Nair were waiting until their fellow students finished lunch to collect the contents of several compost bins scattered around the school. Both are involved in the program at the school, as well as its expansion to nearly 50 other schools across the country.

“We knew that we wanted to do something, but we didn’t know what we wanted to do,” Allesina-McGrory said.

The program was started after then-President Elect Donald Trump had signaled his intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement last November.

This concerned students at Tesla, and a group of around 100 of them met to discuss what they could do.

The result was a program known as Schools Under 2C, referring to the 2 degrees Celsius mark that climate experts have warned will signal a tipping point if the global temperature increases beyond it.

High school students will be poised to inherit a world that could be radically reshaped by global warming, a fact the founders of the program are well aware of.

“We see it as a moral imperative to us,” Nair said.

Since most students involved with the program were too young to vote in the 2016 presidential election, Allesina-McGrory and Nair said this was a way for them to get involved with the political process.

Key parts of the program are encouraging schools to adopt a robust composting program, monitoring light usage to save power and educating students on how to be good stewards of available resources.

Education in particular plays a prominent role at Tesla, where incoming freshmen take an orientation concerning the program.

“Students have been super receptive,” Allesina-McGrory said.

While students in the region at Tesla and other schools have been open to the programs and the dangers of global warming, both Allesina-McGrory and Nair said there are parts of the country where their message isn’t as well received.

“It shows that there is education that needs to be done,” Nair said.

In addition to reducing their carbon output, their composting efforts have allowed the school to downsize its garbage bin, saving more than $800 each school year.

The program at Tesla incorporates around 50 students divided up into subgroups with specific missions ranging from education and outreach to the development of a power-saving app.

In 2016, the program was also awarded the President’s Environmental Youth Award.

The students at Tesla aren’t satisfied with their current achievements.

Looking to the future, they hope to expand to 60 schools by the end of the year and double their carbon reduction to 2 tons every month.

It’s a goal that seems achievable based on their level of success.

“Stuff just grew really, really fast and we didn’t know that was going to happen,” Allesina-McGrory said.

More in News

President’s emergency declaration sparks immediate legal backlash

Attorney General Bob Ferguson said his team will sue the White House if federal funds originally intended for Washington state are interrupted.

Bill targets sexual health curriculum in Washington schools

Senate Bill 5395 is co-sponsored by 17 Democratic representatives and introduced by Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Federal Way.

According to King County’s Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) annual report, Seattle had the highest rate of people using services at 36 percent of the total, followed by 31 percent from South King County, 18 percent from the greater Eastside, and 7 percent from north county including Shoreline.
Study shows King County’s treatment funding is making progress

A document on the county’s .1 percent health sales tax was accepted Wednesday by the county council.

Children’s play area at Seadrunar. Photo by Lauren Davis via Facebook
Seedy side of Seadrunar: Drug rehab center accused of neglect, exploitation

Public records reveal that Seattle facility was accused of neglecting children and clients in its care.

Representative Suzane DelBene and Redmond resident, Yasmin Ali attended the State of the Union last week. Photo courtesy of Suzane DelBene Twitter.
Redmond’s Ali attends State of the Union with Rep. DelBene

DelBene invited Ali as her State of the Union guest.

New Friends of Youth CEO, Paul Lwali, will replace Terry Pottmeyer. Courtesy photo.
Friends of Youth hires new CEO

Pottmeyer steps down; Lwali becomes new Friends of Youth CEO.

Russell Wilson and Ciara spoke Friday at the Tukwila Library to Foster students and other attendees as their Why Not You Foundation joined forces with the King County Library System and JPMorgan Chase to launch the DREAM BIG: Anything is Possible campaign. Photo by Kayse Angel
Russell Wilson and Ciara launch DREAM BIG campaign

Partnership with King County libraries dovetails with scholarship program for local students.

Somali community faces SeaTac displacement

Proposed redevelopment threatens the heart of the Somali business community.

Most Read