The grownups in the room were few and far between but each was wide-eyed in amazement at the power of youth at the sixth annual Students for Green High Schools Conference held on Saturday, January 25.
Organized by the Los Altos High School Green Team, led by co-presidents Audrey Chang and senior Elena Atluri, the conference boasted 120 attendees, about 10 booths, and a dizzying amount of energy, enthusiasm and calls for action to help protect and preserve our planet for future generations. Inspiring is an understatement!
The conference started with an introduction by Andrew Chang, the Samsung host and dad of Audrey, who shared the company’s the sustainability practices. You could tell just when entering the campus that Samsung is leading the charge in sustainability: LEED platinum building, efficient recycling and composting stations, no single-use waste, etc.
New This Year: Booth Displays
Organizations and school clubs had an opportunity to display and discuss their accomplishments through booths and all conference attendees were given ample time to peruse the booths to learn details about initiatives that interested them.
This was followed by standout student speakers:
- Jamie Minden, leader of St. Francis’ environmental club and co-founder of Silicon Valley Youth Climate Strike
- Peri Plantenberg, a student activist with the Sunrise Movement which advocates for aggressive policy change to combat the climate crisis.
Next were breakout sessions on topical issues focusing on what can be done at school and how can they take the learnings home. These were skillfully led by LAHS Green Team facilitators using guiding questions prepared in advance to help prime the pump. Little priming was needed, however; I witnessed many lively and engaging discussions — from approaches to conserving water on campus to best approaches for legislative advocacy — as I traveled from one session to the next. Several middle schoolers attended and were equally engaged.
Following the breakouts, each group presented key findings for others to learn from. The communication and outreach team even offered up a rap to share its findings! This is the sixth conference that I’ve attended and I have to say, it gets better each year. It’s a testament to the youth of today and the dogged determination they have to take control of their fate and the fate of our precious planet. We should all follow their enthusiasm lead!