FHS Envirothon Team Wins Excellence Award
By Chad Garner
Special to the Sentinel & Enterprise
FITCHBURG -- Students on Fitchburg High School’s Envirothon team are so passionate about the environment and working to solve problems within their community that the team received the 2019 Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Environmental Education based on their work for the 2018 MA Envirothon Community Awards.
The team received the Secretary’s Award during a ceremony at the Statehouse in Boston on Monday.
The team’s project, guided by teachers Sarah Johnson and Ann Taft, focused on learning about stormwater in the city and then shared this information to increase awareness about preventing stormwater pollution.
“I am thrilled that the team is being recognized for their hard work,” said Johnson. “The students put in a lot of time and effort outside of the regular school day to research this specific environmental issue and prepare for the Envirothon competition.
“I was surprised to be receiving this award because this was also Fitchburg’s first Envirothon competition, at least in recent memory, which I think is a testament to the quality of the hard work and research the students put into preparing their presentation for the competition,” she said.
The students who worked on the project last year are seniors Rocco Arciprete, Madison Armstrong, Ethan Aubuchon, Josiah Begor, Logan Chesbrough, Wynne Coradeli, Jocelyne Velasquez and Taja Viera. Judy Hanson, Charles Jackson and Erin Primeau all graduated in 2018.
During their research, the students came across a few simple and interesting solutions to some stormwater problems. They learned about some of the changes that were already happening to improve the quality of water that is released into local water bodies, and also researched areas of Fitchburg where things like rain gardens and permeable pavement are already in use.
“The team discovered that there is an area of John Fitch Highway where a river was diverted when the road was being constructed, and now that area is susceptible to flooding during rain events,” Johnson said.
“The students hypothesize that putting some of these simple practices, for example, permeable pavement that allows rainwater to filter through, may help alleviate some of the flooding. I think the research the students did in order to fulfill the requirements of the competition could actually be beneficial in looking at stormwater issues that are affecting areas of Fitchburg,” she said.
The team also worked with college students from WPI and the Fitchburg DPW to create an educational video that provides information about stormwater runoff for the middle-school level.
Garner is the public school district’s communications coordinator.