Drought resistant garden at Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale, Calif. by you.

When education issues make headlines in Los Angeles, the subject’s often bad nutrition and obesity at best and deleterious budget cuts at worst. So visiting Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale, Calif., is like stepping into an unexpectedly healthy green oasis — with organic fruit trees, compost bins for food waste and a healthier vending machine with lots of organic options!

Recycling and composting bins at Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale, Calif. by you.

healthier vending machine at Environmental Charter High SchoolECHS has an eco-curriculum of environmental education and activism called Green Ambassadors — and signs of this green-minded thinking can be seen all over the small campus. Students can eat their lunch on benches designed into drought-resistant gardens — or by a seasonal stream that doubles as a natural flood deterrent that recharges the local aquifer — or on the recycled concrete seats of an outdoor amphitheater. Post-meal, students throw what can’t be recycled or composted into bins appropriately-labeled “Landfill.”

Nonprofits like ReDiscover and Bring Your Own work closely with ECHS — but even big corporations — like Staples Eco Easy for office supplies and Radio Shack for battery recycling collection — take part in the eco-curriculum. Even ECHS’s art classes bring in environmental awareness, with many art projects incorporating recycled and upcycled materials.

at Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale, Calif. by you.

The green initiatives at ECHS is getting the attention of educators all over California. Sara Laimon, director of Green Ambassadors, said the school recently picked 10 public schools in California to participate in a Green Action Curriculum Project intended to incorporate environmental education and awareness into school curriculums across the state.

at Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale, Calif. by you.

Sundance Channel viewers may have seen the Green Ambassadors in action on a “Big Ideas for a Small Planet” episode a couple years ago. Students working on an “Rise Above Plastics” program built boats out of discarded plastics and floated them down Ballona Creek!

Outdoor ampitheater at Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale, Calif. by you.
 

Environmental Charter High School’s open to all high school students in L.A. County. Want to find a similar school in your neighborhood? Visit Green Charter Schools, an organization that supports the “establishment, enhancement and advancement of charter schools with environment-focused educational programs and practices,” for a list of like-minded green schools.

at Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale, Calif. by you.

Photos: Siel

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