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Grasso Technical High School Students Win Climate Change Award

Written by Arielle Cotoia

Willimantic, Conn. - Four students from Grasso Technical High School in Groton were named winners of a $1,000 prize in the 2011 Keep Connecticut Cool competition, aimed at promoting environmental awareness among Connecticut youth.

Their efforts were rewarded for their use of collaboration in developing their sustainability plan.  Judging was held at Eastern Connecticut State University on June 4.

Team members included mentor Larry Fritch and students Ashley Chamberlin, Stephen Kral, Victoria Prejean and Catrina Nowakowski. The team partnered with members of the school, community and businesses to increase school-wide recycling efforts, composing and reusing materials; learn about and demonstrate wind and hydropower and make diodiesel; and produce plants in the school garden and greenhouse.

             This year, 10 teams submitted plans for judging. Towns represented included East Hartford, Groton, Kensington, Hartford, New Haven, New London and Wolcott. Prizes from $500 to $2,500 totaling $10,000 were awarded for teamwork, collaboration, innovation and best plans. Prize money can be used to further the students' projects.

            The Keep Connecticut Cool Challenge is a contest for students in grades 4-12 who create

climate change solutions for their towns and communities.  Projects include recycling and energy

efficiency strategies in schools, including energy audits, installing thermostats and sensors, light replacements and encouraging energy-saving behaviors.  Other projects include replacing Styrofoam trays in lunchrooms, raising climate awareness with student and community television messages, family forums, film festivals, energy fairs and music events.  Students also created plans to purchase rainforest land and carbon sequestration; support local farms; purchase solar installations; and create a "green" school store. In addition to presenting to contest judges, some teams also presented proposals to their boards of education and town councils.

Keep Connecticut Cool was started in 2006 as the Cool It Challenge, hosted by Clean Air-Cool Planet and funded by the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation. The program has been administered by the Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) at Eastern Connecticut State University since 2007 and changed names to Keep Connecticut Cool in 2008. To date, 88 teams involving more than 800 students have worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their schools and communities.

About the Institute for Sustainable Energy

            ISE at Eastern was established in 2001 to identify, develop and implement the means for achieving a sustainable energy future. The Institute focuses on matters relating to energy education, energy policy, efficiency conservation and load management, renewable energy, distributed generation, protection of environmental resources, and the dissemination of useful information on energy alternatives and sustainability to users and providers of energy. The Institute adds an unbiased focus on practical applications and dissemination of information about how to improve the energy profile and sustainability of Connecticut and the region.      

About the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation
The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation funds innovative projects which advance solutions to basic and enduring problems. With an overall emphasis on education, principally in the United States, takes an active role in three major areas: Art, Environment and Learning Disabilities. Website:


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