Green Team president accepts LAHS Green Ribbon award


Courtesy Diya Gupta

Green Team president senior Diya Gupta and Assistant Principal Galen Rosenberg receive LAHS’s Green Ribbon award.

Los Altos High School Green Team president senior Diya Gupta and Assistant Principal Galen Rosenberg flew to Washington, D.C. to claim the school’s Green Ribbon award on Tuesday, September 28.

The U.S. Department of Education awards schools with this ribbon for their contribution and commitment in each of the following areas: reducing environmental impact and costs, improving the health and wellness of schools, students and staff and providing effective environmental and sustainability education. LAHS is one of 40 schools nationwide to receive the award, covering all three “pillars,” which provide the basis for their recognition.

In addition to formally accepting the award, Diya and Rosenberg had the opportunity to travel to Capitol Hill and meet with Congressperson Anna Eshoo to discuss Green Team’s goals and how they overlap with current climate-driven legislation on a national level.

“We talked about Green Team’s initiatives and the impact our students have on the environment,” Diya said. “It was neat to get a congressional point of view on our District.”

They also toured the D.C. Bilingual Charter School — another Green Ribbon award recipient — and learned how other schools with different resources are fighting the climate crisis.

“The school actually grows everything that they feed their students,” Diya said. “They have a whole garden system that consists of fruits, vegetables, herbs and beans. Some of their science classes are spent out in the garden which brings together interactive learning and a love for the planet.”

While Diya acknowledged that such a system may not work to feed the student body at LAHS, which is three times as large as the one they visited, she sees an importance in understanding how different schools approach the environmental crisis based on the resources they have available. In the same way that a garden may not be feasible for the LAHS campus, the walk and bike culture is something that may be much harder for more rural schools; and, of course, it comes down to the individual level, she said.

“Just because we’ve won this award doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stop throwing your food waste in the correct bin or start driving to school,” Diya said. “Every little thing matters.”

Without the individual contribution from community members, students, and the administration, LAHS wouldn’t have been able to achieve such an environmentally aware culture.

“The forefront of this application began a couple years ago with different co-presidents and club members,” Diya said. “So it feels so special that I was able to accept this, not only on the behalf of the Green Team, but also on behalf of everyone who has helped contribute their time and their energy to this club since it started.”

For Green Team, accepting this award was a milestone, but certainly not a finish line. Diya has many ideas to carry from D.C. back to Green Team.

“There’s still so much work to be done,” Diya said. “Electric busses are something we haven’t even started talking about yet. Keeping our recycled items and making something out of them to display on campus is another idea. How we can make our sewage system more sustainable. These are all conversations that Green Team is ready to start bringing up.”

The plaque brought back from D.C. is only physical evidence of the behind-the-scenes work that Green Team does to serve the community.

“I think I can speak on behalf of Green Team that everything we have done was never for an award,” Diya said. “It’s definitely an honor and proof of our hard work, but behind it all is just students who are passionate about making the school a better place. Mr. Rosenberg and I both agree that there’s always further steps we can take as a community and as a club to serve the environment. Be green, not mean.”