Santa Monica High School, in its first year participating in the international Project Green Challenge, placed 21st out of 758 schools and 85 countries, affirming their commitment to environmental advocacy and action.
The Project Green Challenge asked students to participate daily during October. On the broad theme of sustainability, they were tasked with taking and uploading items like photos and short answers to questions. The challenge is run by Turning Green, a global, student-led organization dedicated to environmental education and advocacy.

Samohi sophomores (l-r) Giselle Avila-Hengsathorn, Citli Carrera and Hailie Matsui were members of a winning team called Happy Sprouts.

Also, during October, the district sponsored the Go Green Challenge for K-5 students. In both contests, winners were determined by the number of participation days and subjective criteria like thoughtfulness, creativity and relevance.

Sixty SMMUSD students participated in the challenges.

“The participation in this was great to see, and we’re thankful for it,” said Austin Toyama, SMMUSD sustainability coordinator. “The students’ commitment to learning about environmental issues and sustainable living is important for their health and that of our communities and the planet.”
Students and parents provided great feedback about the challenge, launched during the pandemic. Among their thoughts:
• It added a level of joy during a time when “life isn’t as fun and interactive.”
• Families learned from the challenge and made changes at home as a result. Some said they were going to share what they learned with neighbors.
• It generated interesting and educational conversations for all household members.

Winners, listed below, won gift cards.

Winners of the Fall 2020 (K – 5) Go Green Challenge!
1st Place: Isla Sroka – Grade 3 Franklin
2nd Place: Arabella Feldman-Milliken – Grade 5 Roosevelt
3rd Place (4-way tie): Theo Richards – Grade 3 Franklin

Winners of the Fall 2020 Project Green Challenge (Grades 6 – 8)
1st Place: Sahana Lindsey – Grade 7 John Adams Middle
2nd Place: Yunho Heo – Grade 8 Lincoln Middle

Winners of the Fall 2020 Project Green Challenge (Grades 9 – 12)
1st Place: Team Happy Sprouts (Halie Matsui, Citli Carrera Arenas and Giselle Avila-Hengsathorn) – Grade 10, Samohi
2nd Place: Olivia Rizzo – Grade 9 Samohi
3rd Place: Team Green Teas (Sofia Garban, Joaquin Martinez Devis, Samantha Ramirez, and Keira Yanez) – Grade 10, Samohi

For more about the Project Green Challenge, go to

Chris Clonts, communications specialist