It was a competition and, yes, there were winners. But in the end, everyone at Pittsburg High actually won.

A recent assembly celebrated the school's green challenge, which began in January.

In that time, students become eco aware, with the school's Activists Club leading the way.

The 15-member group spearheaded the initial eco campaign, and was soon joined by the city of Pittsburg's Laura Wright and Mt. Diablo Recycling's Nicole Impagliazzo, along with school staff and all grade levels.

In a good-for-all contest, a recycling showdown was instituted. The class (freshman through senior) which recycled the most in the four months would win bragging rights and cash.

The challenge turned out 1,700 pounds of recycled goods, with the sophomores taking the top prize. The winning class collected 600 pounds while the seniors gather 500 pounds; the juniors 400 pounds; and the freshmen 200 pounds.

Erick Valenzuela, teacher and co-organizer of the challenge, said, "I was very impressed with the outcome ... It is a starting point and I think this is going to grow exponentially and be part of the student experience at PHS. I am looking forward to seeing it grow and improve ... and evolve as needed to be pertinent to the students."

In addition to naming the recycling winners at the assembly, a fashion show was held. The twist: The outfits had to be made of recycled materials.


Advertisement

Shamika Alexander took top honors with her dress, which was entirely knitted of reused plastic grocery bags.

About 12 students -- some working on their own and others in groups -- walked down this eco-friendly cat walk.

Here's the full list of winners:

For the class battle, the first-place sophomores won $1,000; second-place seniors got $750; third-place juniors, $500; and fourth-place freshmen earned $250.

In the fashion show contest, Alexander won a $10 Baskin-Robin gift card and $250 for the TTP Club. Second-place finisher Juanito Nunez-Sierra scored $5 BR card and $200 for TTP, while third-place Amea Spencer got a $5 BR card and $150 for Club P.i.P. Honorable mention went to Reyjene Tapia and Mary Gilbert. Each received a $5 BR card and a $75 gift card for TTP Club.

The city of Pittsburg and Mt. Diablo Recycling sponsored the prizes.

This green challenge even gained the attention of Tom Torlakson, state school superintendent, who sent a letter to Valenzuela and the Activists club.

"I commend the club for undertaking such an ambitious range of projects ... I am impressed these students have gained the attention and aid of the school and city," he wrote. "I wish you the best of luck ... As a teacher, I am encouraged by the news of young students who take their future into their own hands."

As for next year, Valenzuela said the group will meet "to improve and refine the program with the hopes to get more involvement and excitement. I think that for the first year, it was very successful," he said. "I'm looking forward to next year's challenge."

FAB FEST: More than 2,000 folks attended the fourth annual event, which focused showcasing student accomplishment.

"Falcon Festival was a great success this year," said Erik Faulkner, principal of the Oakley school.

Included in the recent event were Delta Science Center, You, Me, We = Oakley, PTSA, Patriots Jet Team, Athletic Boosters, in addition to school clubs, activities, academic departments and athletics. In addition to vendor booths, the East County Fire Protection district demonstrated the Jaws of Life, and offered students a glimpse of a fire truck engine.

CLEAN IT UP: At the recent Keep Antioch Beautiful, not only did about 300 residents help collect more than 3.5 tons of trash but a few schools also cleaned up in the money department.

The schools with the most volunteers during this annual event had a chance to win money for their campuses. First-place winners in each school level received $500; second place $300 and third place $200.

The winning schools were: For elementary: Belshaw, first (with 51 volunteers); Kimball, second; and Antioch Charter Academy II, third place. For middle: Black Diamond, first (with 80 volunteers); and Dallas Ranch, second place. In the high-school category: Deer Valley, first (with 39 volunteers); Antioch, second; and Bidwell, third place.

Martha Parsons, founder of KAB, said she was pleased with the event, and hopes for more participation next spring. She was also happy to be able to help the local campuses. "(This) is something every school can use."

She's thankful to NRG Energy's sponsorship of the prize money.

Parsons is a big fan of volunteering, and thrilled to acknowledge the volunteerism of young people "When (they) learn the rewards of volunteering, it is a lifetime gift of their talent to future worthwhile endeavors."

BYE ART: The final phase of the Art4Schools exhibit at the Lynn House Gallery runs through May 25. Sponsored by the Arts & Cultural Foundation of Antioch, the ninth annual event now features works from Turner and Diablo elementary schools. The Art4Schools exhibits features Antioch classes and is sponsored by the Arts & Cultural Foundation of Antioch, Union Pacific Foundation, the City of Antioch and a Calpine fund through the office of Supervisor Federal Glover. The gallery is open from 1-4 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays.

If you have school news to share, contact Trine Gallegos at trineg@att.net. You can also reach Judith Prieve at jprieve@bayareanewsgroup.com.

---