Elementary School Wins Big National Prize

Elementary School Wins Big National Prize

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Kim Johnson Reporting Ford Motor Company and National Geographic put out a challenge to elementary schools across the country: identify a problem in your school yard and come up with an environmentally responsible solution.

As Eyewitness News first told you a few weeks ago, a local elementary school took on the challenge and entered the "radical renovation" contest. And they won big!

Out of six hundred elementary schools nationwide, Escalante Elementary won the $100,000 prize.

Daron Bush, Ford Motor Company: “Ford Motor Company and National Geographic chose Escalante Elementary’s action plan for water conservation and wildlife development the very best of the best.”

Teachers Machelle Dahl and Heather Aiono were the driving force behind the project. They read about the radical renovation contest last February and never looked back.

Machelle Dahl, 4th grade teacher: “We knew we had to do it, both of us. We just had a feeling from the moment it came, both of us.”

Heather Aiono, 6th grade teacher: “These kids had the answers. We just led them through it. They knew how to solve the problem. They knew what the vision was. That's why we knew it would win, because it was the kids."

In their contest entry students videotaped a pressing problem: their soggy soccer field. Underground Artesian springs make it too wet for students to play on seventy percent of the time.

After two archeological digs and one geological dig, the students submitted a plan to conserve the spring water, by pumping it away from the soccer field and into a pond and garden area that would serve as a science center.

Willie Ramirez, Student: “We’re going to explore. We’re going to see real life things like amphibians, lizards, butterflies, insects.”

National Geographic and Ford Motor officials say the school's entry was far and away the best entry in the entire country.

Tina Thorderson, Student: “We feel so happy, we just want to jump and scream.”

The $100,000 is being used to implement the students’ plan. Landscaping on the pond and gardens should be completed by mid June.

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