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Newberry high school team wins prize for environmental challenge

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This week 10 Newberry students from the Climate Control Corps competed against 400 teams.

They received a first place award in the Lexus Eco Challenge and landed a $15,000 prize. The team earned the prize because of its environmental events and work the students perform in Alachua County.

“I’ve always been kind of eco-aware, and it’s really great to get out there and spread it and make more people aware and reduce the carbon footprint and all that,” said 16-year-old team member Jenna Poole.

The group planted 200 longleaf pines, worked with Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops to educate the youth about the importance of lowering his or her carbon footprint and published a children’s environmental e-book.

“We do a lot of brainstorming to begin with and they come up with all the ideas of activities to do. And so it’s their project, it’s not my project,” said teacher and team sponsor Cynthia Holland.

The team also hosted an environmental bike rally with the Gainesville Cycling Club.

Blake Stefanelli, 17, said he is proud of the team’s work and is looking forward to dividing the prize money between students and the school.

“I’m going to use it for college. I’m trying to go to medical school so it’s going to come in really handy and the school gets to keep, I believe they’re keeping $3,000 of it,” he said. “So with that I believe they’re trying to get some new Macbook Pros to use here.”

According to the challenge rules, $3,000 goes to the school, $2,000 is awarded directly to the teacher or adviser to be used toward  school-related supplies or educational programs. Students on the team will have $10,000 distributed among them.

The benefits of the CCC and their work stretches  into the community, and Holland said the students will continue to build awareness.

Four other high schools from California, Ohio and Massachusetts were also given a $15,000 prize, according to the contest’s website.

“It’s things that they really are passionate about, they believe in, and so they want to spread the word, not only to the Newberry community, but then also to Alachua County as well,” Holland said.

Sarah Brand wrote this story online.

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