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Laudato Si at Notre Dame Prep
By Michael Kelly (Story from Today's Marists Spring 2016 Edition)

The E-Club Puts Their Values to Work
The E-Club Puts Their Values to Work!

Almost six years after the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, NDPMA students welcome Earth Day once again this year vowing to help make their world a better place for themselves and for generations to come.

On April 20, 2010, Earth Day that year, a massive explosion on an offshore oil-drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and sparked a huge fire that eventually sank the rig. More than 200 million gallons of crude oil leaked into the gulf over the next five months, killing thousands of marine animals and affecting thousands of people in the fishing and tourist industry.

This year, as Earth Day comes on April 22, 2016, here in the State of Michigan we are still reeling from another catastrophic human and environmental tragedy in Flint, Michigan.

The city continues to struggle to recover from what for them has been their own worst environmental disaster — the contamination of the water supply from lead into the drinking water.

Thirty freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors, however, are deeply involved in environmental stewardship by their participation in the school's Environmental Club. Formed in 2001, the Environmental Club at NDP was created to raise awareness among the student body of how the small differences they make in their everyday lives can make a big impact in conserving resources and protecting the environment.

One former Notre Dame student, Marty Opthoff, who served as president of the club, says the best thing any student can do is to spread awareness of green practices. "Simple things add up and really make a difference," he said. "When we all work as a community, we see big results." Opthoff went on to attend Michigan State University, and he believes he and the other students in the Environmental Club really did make a difference in how the school as a whole feels about its environmental responsibility. "Just by encouraging my friends to change their habits, this school is a greener place."

E-club members try to accomplish environmental stewardship by recycling paper and plastic throughout the entire school and by sharing vital information with all students through announcements, regular meetings and newsletters.

"In addition to educating others about the environment, we try to show the members of our club and other students how they can do more," said Ms. Garcia, who has been on the faculty of Notre Dame for seven years and is the group's faculty advisor. "We participate in Adopt-A-Highway to clean up Giddings Road, we visit organic farms to help plant trees, and we even visit a 'green' convent to see how the nuns there practice environmental sustainability.

"Also, we've helped to pick vegetables and assisted in a year-end cleanup of a local organic farm that donates food to the needy." Garcia also noted that the entire Notre Dame community pitched in recently by collecting and delivering dozens of cases of desperately needed bottled water to the people of Flint.

Sustainability also is a big part of what Notre Dame's e-club does. "We recycle every week," says Garcia. "Sustainability refers to lowering your carbon footprint, basically, by using less of the fossil fuels we have available. This is done in many ways, but I would say the NDP e-club focuses on sustainability through our recycling and environmental cleanup efforts and by promoting general awareness among students."

Garcia notes that each member of the group is very selfless in that cleaning up after other people is not always all that enjoyable.

"These kids do it because they care
and because they know how important it is to
take responsibility for the beautiful earth God gave us."

Garcia says that keeping young people today focused on the environment is as important as ever. And that fits perfectly with NDPMA's mission of forming "upright citizens."

"I've always seen the earth as a gift from God," Garcia said. "If we don't take care of it, we are insulting Him." She says that if we are teaching our students to be upright citizens, "we must also teach them to be responsible for caring for the planet's water and air that is so precious to us."

About Marist School
Marist School in Atlanta, which was founded in 1901, is an independent, Catholic, college-preparatory day school enrolling approximately 1,042 boys and girls in grades seven through 12. It is owned and operated by the Society of Mary (Marists).