DeBakey HS seniors honored for Reduce, Reuse, Recycle sustainability plans

DeBakey High School students know a thing or two about the future. As HISD’s only healthcare magnet school, DeBakey is an environment designed for students with hopes of making a positive impact on the world around them, whether they dream of being doctors, nurses, engineers, or environmental scientists.

DeBakey students were tasked with a Reduce, Reuse, Recycle challenge from HISD’s Energy and Sustainability Department to think proactively about a problem facing their school and develop a proposal to address that problem. The plans were required to be presented in a digital poster with a creative title and unique logo. The poster would need to name the problem, explain how the student would solve it, why it is important, how the plan would benefit the school, and what resources are required to put the plan into action.

According to Dr. Chewachong Godwill, DeBakey’s AP Environmental Science Teacher, the DeBakey students were especially well-suited to take on the contest.

“Generally, here on campus, we have students who are passionate about the future and who know what success means,” Godwill said. “They want to stay on top of everything they do. They want to make sure that the environment that they leave in the future is safe.”

Senior Shankar Jayaprakash authored the winning proposal, “DeBakey Sun Power,” which detailed the goal of installing solar panels on the DeBakey roof. Jayaprakash’s theoretical proposal calls for support from parents, teachers, and students, using social media to mobilize HISD to fund solar panels to power the school.

“Solar has found increased popularity in Texas recently, and I figured this would be a good place considering how much sun the building gets and the sun reflected off of surrounding buildings,” said Jayaprakash.

Jayaprakash’s proposal cites solar energy as a more environmentally friendly alternative to typical energy resources and stresses the need for an energy source that does not produce greenhouse gasses or harmful elements.

“When you talk about global warming, when fuel combustion is used, ice caps melt, and water levels rise,” Jayaprakash said. “We’ve gone through energy grid failures in Houston, as well as floods, and think that all of that comes from a misuse of energy and a more sustainable and better thought-out energy plan would decrease all of those issues.”

Other proposals from Godwill’s seniors included mitigating food waste with composting and community gardening, repurposing and recycling of school materials to decrease demand for paper and textiles, and introducing reusable lunch trays to eliminate Styrofoam waste in the cafeteria. Jayaprakash received a certificate of recognition for his winning proposal idea, and DeBakey received a glass trophy from Energy and Sustainability to display in their trophy case to commemorate their participation and victory in the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle challenge.