Local high school students are taking active steps to improve the environment, from installing bike racks and water filtration systems on their campuses, to investigating sustainable materials for lunch trays and beverage straws.
Several of these students were awarded an environmental scholarship last week during a ceremony held at Bell Gardens High School. The scholarships, which ranged from $475 to $500 each, comes from a settlement fund set up after a 1988 explosion at Grow Group, a chemical company in Commerce, sent up a 1000 feet toxic plume that injured twelve people and resulted in 30,000 people being evacuated.
The Montebello Unified School District recipients of this year’s scholarships were Priscilla Silva of Bell Gardens High School, Ryan Rodriguez and Thomas Sun of Schurr High School, and Erica Saldivar of Montebello High School.
Silva was credited with getting water filtration systems installed at her school and for also getting involved with an effort to install bike racks at the front of campus; Rodriguez traveled to Kenya during the summer to count zebras; Thomas Sun is part of the school’s environmental club, which regularly makes suggestions to the school principal on school practices that can be changed to make the campus more sustainable; and Saldivar organized recycling efforts, as well as park and beach cleanups.
Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Estudiantes de MUSD con Conciencia Ambiental Son Otorgados Becas 
Many of the students will be majoring in science related fields, including environmental science, chemical engineering, and natural resource protection.
In 1990, the Grow Group pleaded no contest to one felony count of illegal disposal of hazardous waste in 1990, and was ordered to pay a fine of nearly $270,000. The funds were distributed to local affected school districts. Other recipients of the scholarship this year included Amy Orozco and Kerinda Frith of Pioneer High School in Whittier, and Samantha Ruiz of El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera.