Environmental science class focuses on awareness

Jessica Lee, Editor-in-Chief

‘Tis the season to be green!

Through her environmental science class and L.I.F.E. club, Honors Environmental Science teacher Isabel Cuerpo is on a mission to spread environmental awareness and to involve more students in the Earth’s environmental health.

Students may have seen different colored flags on the flag pole. The flags are a part of the San Joaquin County sponsored air quality flag program the Honors Environmental Science students are a part of.

Every day, a group of students look up the quality of the air on the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District website and hang a certain color of flag depending on the observed data. A green flag means the air quality is good, yellow means moderate, orange means unhealthy for sensitive groups and red means unhealthy.

Cuerpo decided to be a part of this program because she said monitoring air quality is important, given that many students at Bear Creek and even some faculty, herself included, have respiratory problems. The program allows P.E. teachers to make wiser decisions about whether or not to take the students outside.

“What [P.E. teachers] can do is monitor [the air quality] by looking at the flag and then they can say, ‘Ok, is this a good day to go and take the kids out and play or should we go in doors and do something else?’” Cuerpo said.

Students, with or without asthma, appreciate the air quality flags.

“I think it’s pretty cool because I never really thought about how our air quality was,” junior Antwan Bradford said. “I never thought it was really important because I feel fine.”

“Air quality isn’t on everyone’s top priority to think about so [the air quality flag program] is good because it lets us know how we’re doing and when we shouldn’t be outside,” senior Taylor Misa said.

Cuerpo has added this air quality program to the other environment-friendly activities her students participate in. Other activities include California Coastal Cleanup and the Earth Day Festival, both of which she coordinates with CP Chemistry teacher Steve Meredith.

At California Coastal Cleanup, students clean up the area around Sandman Park, picking up trash and painting over graffiti. This year, approximately 125 students volunteered.

At the Earth Day Festival, students participate in various educational programs and spread awareness about the environment to children as they learn more about it themselves.

Cuerpo’s goal is not only to expose students to information but to instill a sense of responsibility to take care of the environment.

“What we’re trying to do is instill the value of stewardship and, in order for [students] to start caring about the environment and their impact, [as well as for them to think about] what they can change in their lifestyle, they need to be exposed so that they are aware,” Cuerpo said.

As advisor for L.I.F.E. club, Cuerpo hopes to spread more environmental awareness and touch more lives.

“We are hoping that we will be able to promote more about being green,” L.I.F.E. club president Golden Nguyen said. “We are trying to get more participation in the club for our clean-up days and our daily recycling.”

One way Nguyen hopes to get more people involved in caring for the environment is by starting DIY (Do It Yourself) projects each month. One project was paper machete cups: the club members took used water bottles, cut them in half, and used recycled paper to cover the bottles.

“We’re using recycled products to create something new and something everyone can use,” Nguyen said. “The mission of L.I.F.E. club is to spread awareness of living green so that the environment benefits. By living green, you can save money and also be creative.”

L.I.F.E. club has also recently restarted their Adopt-a-Green-Space program.

Program Director senior Jennifer Farias hopes to build on what previous students have already done; last year’s focus was on cleaning up the campus and this year she wants to focus on planting.

“We just want to continue [beautifying the campus] and make it better,” Farias said. “With Red Cross’ spot, we took out the rose bushes. We want to put stuff over there. We want to put more flowers so it’s more colorful, and we also want to plant trees.”

By the end of the year, Cuerpo hopes students will be educated about the environment and more will take action to ensure it continues to thrive.