It's official: Santa Catalina is an Ocean Guardian School
It's official: Santa Catalina is an Ocean Guardian School

It's official: Santa Catalina is an Ocean Guardian School once more.

The Ocean Guardian program, funded by NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, empowers schools to come up with projects that make a difference in the health and protection of their local watershed and ocean—in Catalina's case, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Science teachers Lisa Marrack in the Upper School and Kelly Miller in the Lower and Middle School applied for and received a $4,000 grant at the beginning of the school year. The funds went toward students' efforts to reduce plastic use, restore local dunes, and research plastic pollution in the marine ecosystem.

Student with a clean plate gets a stamp

Activities in the Upper School included:

  • R4's Harvest Week in December. The environmental club wanted to educate the school community about the importance of reducing our food consumption and trash, both of which contribute to high CO2 emissions as well as waste in landfills. They used Ocean Guardian-funded coffee mugs and reusable water bottles as incentives to get students to try new habits aimed at reducing waste. Students could earn a mug by participating in a Clean Plate Challenge (above), using reusable shopping bags, writing letters to lawmakers, saying "no" to straws at restaurants, and more.
  • An R4-led chapel service that focused on plastic pollution.
  • Screenings of the documentary A Plastic Ocean and the Netflix series Our Planet.
  • Research by students in the Marine Ecology Research Program and Marine Science classes. A group of seniors and a group of juniors in MERP are involved in a multiyear project on microplastics in beach sands and the marine food web. In one Marine Science lab, students examined the percent of plastics vs. other materials ingested by albatross chicks.
  • Pulling invasive plants and planting native species at local dunes.
  • Beach cleanup days in the fall and spring. The spring event included science stations that taught kids about sand crabs, marine algae, and plastic alternatives.

Catalina was last named an Ocean Guardian School in the 2013-14 school year. That year, the school was able to put in the first water filtration systems that support students' use of reusable water bottles. Santa Catalina is proud to continue efforts that make campus, and the community, more green.

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