CUSD becomes first national Ocean Guardian district

On Nov. 12 Congressman Sam Farr honored Carmel Unified School District at Carmel Middle School as the first National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Ocean Guardian school district in the nation.

What is an Ocean Guardian School? National Marine Sanctuaries defines it as a school that protects and conserves its local water sources as well as the world’s oceans by organizing water conservation projects.

The five schools within the school district—Carmel High School, Carmel Middle School, Carmel River School, Tularcitos Elementary School and Captain Cooper Elementary School—have participated in reduce/reuse/recycle programs, implemented gardens and natural habitats, made changes in the infrastructure in order to decrease the carbon footprint and brought awareness on many topics relating to environmental safety, according to the Carmel Unified School District website.

Schools across the district have joined in beach clean-ups, discouraged the use of single-use items from their cafeterias and created skits to educate peers on what they can do at home to help save the environment.

Biology and chemistry teacher Tom Dooner supports the school’s actions towards organizing and eliminating plastic waste. However, he points that a parking lot full of cars doesn’t help in reducing the amount of emissions.

“I propose a $500 per semester student parking fee, and all of the proceeds used to purchase MST bus passes which then could be distributed free to any student who requests one,” Dooner comments.

Seniors Katherine Atkins and Chloe Nixon, co-presidents of the CHS Environmental Club, explain that the biggest problem in CHS regarding waste is how students don’t separate their trash into waste, recycling or compost accurately, so custodians end up throwing it all in one bin. Nixon adds, “To make it better there would have to be a cooperation between the students and the custodians.”

Atkins concludes, “We do make an effort. We really try to teach the kids to be conscious of the environment.”

– Julia Sudol