Monmouth University held its second annual Sustainability Education Week last month and two Bordentown Regional Middle School (BRMS) students were able to share their ideas on how to make the environment more sustainable.
Eighth graders Kashika Manak and Hasini Nandyala got an opportunity through their involvement in the school district’s Early Learning Program for the Academically Talented (ELPAT) to participate in the special K-12 summit sponsored by Monmouth University.
The two BRMS students were tasked to present their own ideas through an essay or through a video presentation to answer the question, “What steps are you taking to promote environmental sustainability?”
Both Kashika and Hasini presented their findings based on topics such as clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, responsibility consumption and production, climate action and life below water and on land at the virtual summit on March 22.
Their entries received high praise from the committee of university educators as both BRMS students were selected to be one of three finalists in the 5-8 grade group.
“It is awesome to see our students working on projects that impact our community and world,” BRMS Principal Joseph Sprague said in a statement. “These two students represented BRMS in an amazing way and we are extremely proud of them.”
One winner was named from each grade group with Bordentown’s own Kashika being honored as the top recipient in the fifth to eighth grade group.
Kashika won for her essay on the biggest waste factors affecting the environment, pointing out how fashion corporations produce the most waste in the world and explained in her findings about how the fashion industry can make this issue less detrimental to the environment.
“Surprised” when she heard her name as the winner, Kashika said she feels very honored to have the opportunity to speak about making the environment a better place.
“I feel honored to be giving something that younger generations have to say on how to protect the earth,” Kashika said.
Hasini presented a video presentation on the impact that toilet paper has on the environment and how substitutions, such as bamboo, can be used as a form of toilet paper to cut down on the amount of water and wood used to make toilet paper.
A staggering statistic that Hasini included in her presentation was that from 1996 to 2015, more than 28 acres of the Boreal Forest, which is the equivalent to the size of Ohio, were logged into the process to make toilet paper.
“I was glad they are doing something to get younger people to talk about environmental suitability,” Hasini said about the summit. “I’m very proud to have been a finalist.”
Both students were informed by their eighth grade ELPAT advisors, Taylor Gilbert and Andrea Molnar, about the environmental sustainability summit that Monmouth University was holding.
This subject corresponded to the two climate change projects that the ELPAT students are working on this school year.
Part of these projects are being used to help make BRMS and other schools in the Bordentown Regional School District more “green,” said Gilbert.
For example, Kashika helped make an outdoor school space at BRMS where her and other students hung plants to create a learning space that was more environmentally friendly.
Hasini was part of a project where students fixed up old gardens around the BRMS campus and put in new plants to help make the air less polluted.
Gilbert, who is a Social Studies teacher at BRMS, said it was very “humbling and exciting” for the ELPAT program to see both Kashika and Hasini be recognized for their hard work at the environmental stability summit.
Having been a part of the ELPAT program the last two two years, Gilbert said ELPAT students have a lot of extra work to complete on top of their normal course load.
She was very impressed by both Kashika and Hasini for handling that type of course load and still finding time to participate and excel in the environmental stability summit, adding it’s helping the Bordentown’s ELPAT continue to go strong for over the last 10 years.
“I’m very impressed with the work Kashika and Hasini did,” Gilbert said. “They had four weeks to do it, on top of their other work. They both did a great job.”