Twenty-one student representatives from the West Tisbury School, on behalf of their group Safe Sea MV, traveled to the Massachusetts State House Friday to accept a Green Difference Award from Project Green Schools in the category of Outstanding Green Community Hero. According to a press release, they also received an honorable mention in the category of Outstanding Green Student.
According to their website, Project Green Schools “works to develop the next generation of environmental leaders through hands-on, project-based, solutions-based learning, community service, and action.” Students posed for photos in the Great Hall of Flags while receiving an official citation signed by the president of the Senate, clerk of the Senate, and State Senator Julian Cyr.
The students were recognized for their hard work and dedication in creating a bylaw that would ban the intentional release of helium balloons into the environment in order to prevent litter, pollution, and harm to wildlife. The students petitioned to get the bylaw on the warrants, attended each town meeting giving passionate speeches and answering questions from the voters, and helped their Island community pass the bylaw in the towns of Aquinnah, West Tisbury, Tisbury, and Oak Bluffs. With teacher Zoe Turcotte in sixth grade science class and Sustainability Club, students are working toward getting the bylaw on the warrant to be voted on in Chilmark and Edgartown next year.
The students felt inspired by the other awardwinners, some traveling to be honored from as far away as California and India. For Sam Fetters, the highlight was meeting State Representative Jay Barrows, who made the opening remarks. Sam said that he wanted to work in the State House someday. Noah Manning was also inspired by the civics lesson in the day’s event. Noah further continued his lesson in civic engagement by continuing on with his travels to Washington, D.C., for the March of Science, where he carried his Safe Sea MV sign.