Southwestern High School receives PRIDE Project of the Month AwardJanuary 18, 2017 by Angela Traver
Somerset, KY — What do hydration and water pollution have in common? These are both problems the students of Southwestern High School in Pulaski County are trying to solve for the Samsung® “Solve for Tomorrow” 2017 Education Contest. For their efforts to make a difference in their community and improve student health, PRIDE presented them with the Project of the Month Award.
For this contest, Biology Teacher Judah Short and his students took a hard look at their community to determine where they could best make an impact. “When I asked my team of students how they wanted to change our community and how they could make positive change, two things became apparent. They wanted to reduce solid waste plastic pollution out of our fresh waterways and they were very concerned about the ability of individual students to stay hydrated,” said Short.
To combat these issues the students set forth with a plan to start a more comprehensive recycling program at Lake Cumberland by placing recycling containers at water entry points around the lake. The second part of the plan, to tackle the hydration issue, is to provide students with reusable water bottles and lobby to better equip schools and the community with water fountains for easy access to fill the bottles.
“I feel really great about being able to do something for our community. Somerset has always had such a huge focus around the lake and what we are doing is going to help that for a long, long time,” said Miles Braden Venable, a senior at SWHS.
“We are going to make water easier for students to have available and most importantly they won’t be producing tons of plastic waste from it. It will be a great feeling knowing that every time someone uses it. Like, look what we did. We did that,” added senior Cassi Reed.
The students are not stopping with recycling containers and reusable water bottles. They are also partnering with PRIDE and the Somerset Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce and joining the annual Spring Cleanup efforts. Approximately 300 students are expected to participate in the Highway 27 Clean Sweep happening this April in Somerset.
“It is an honor to be able to work with Mr. Short and this group of motivated young people,” said Tammie Wilson, PRIDE president and CEO. “To see these students tackle some of the environmental problems we face head-on is so rewarding and really reflects PRIDE’s mission of advancing environmental education.”
Short and his students have already won at the state level of the Samsung® “Solve for Tomorrow” 2017 Education Contest. For their efforts thus far, they have received $25,000 in technology for their school. This equipment will help them compete at the national level with a chance to win an additional $150,000 in technology equipment for Southwestern High School.
“I truly feel blessed by the amount of support and love that the students and school district have shown, as well as the amazing support from Eastern Kentucky PRIDE. We are making a change in our community, in our state and hopefully incite a passion worldwide and make students all over the nation realize how easy it can be to be mindful of where their waste goes. I thank Samsung for doing this grant contest and providing our school and students an opportunity to work together to Solve for Tomorrow. I invite any and all individuals who want to help out to get involved through the school or through PRIDE to truly make an impact. The more of us that come together the better,” Short said.
For more info on PRIDE’s Project of the Month award or to nominate a project, please go to www.kypride.org.
PRIDE, which stands for “Personal Responsibility In a Desirable Environment,” was founded in 1997 by Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-5) and the late James Bickford, who was the Kentucky Secretary for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection. The PRIDE mission is to contribute to the economic and cultural growth of southern and eastern Kentucky by improving water quality, cleaning up solid waste problems and advancing environmental education, in order to improve living conditions for its residents while enhancing the potential for tourism industry growth in the region.