CPS Students Look To Make History And Help The Environment

Lisa Fielding
June 25, 2019 - 2:10 pm
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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A group of Chicago Public School students spent one of their first days of summer break at City Hall on Tuesday.

"These students have been working on a science project all year," said former Governor Pat Quinn.

Quinn is helping middle schoolers at Ray Elementary in Chicago officially file an ordinance with the City Clerk.

"It's an environmental ordinance. It will help everyone in Chicago take better care of our land, our air and our water and our environment. It's a mission of love of young people who care about your planet Earth," he said.

A group of Chicago Public School students spent one of their first days of summer at City Hall, hoping to make history while helping the environment.
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

Science teacher Vicky Drewa said her students are studying climate change.

"We had been working on a unit studying thermal insulation and thermal insulators and this is why we stumbled upon this idea of Polystyrene expanded foam also know as Styrofoam," she said.

"This is one of the projects we kinda took on with the students. We've been trying to get people's attention all year long."

As a result, the class is filing a petition to the Committee of Environmental Protection and Energy to consider a ban on single use Styrofoam containers.

"Our first reason we want to ban containers is because sometimes they can leak into your food and cause cancer," said Mason O'Shields, 6th grader, Ray Elementary.

"The second reason is that it is not biodegradable and it will never fully break down," said Jamela Finley, 6th grader.

"Another reason is because birds and fish mistaken it for food so it can mess up our environment," said Jamir Patterson, 6th grader.

Mason O'Shields, 6th grader, Ray Elementary
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

The students have done extensive research on alternatives to Styrofoam takeout containers at restaurants.

"Two alternatives we can use is 100 percent vegetable boxes and 100 percent recyclable boxes," said Ari Stanton Thomas, 6th grader.

Drewa said the students wrote letters to several Illinois lawmakers and to restaurants in Hyde Park, but didn't get any responses. Governor Quinn came to speak to their class and agreed to help.

Governor Pat Quinn is helping middle schoolers at Ray Elementary in Chicago officially file an ordinance with the City Clerk.
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

"Under the law of Chicago, any citizen no matter what their age can submit an ordinance to the City Clerk. By rule, that ordinance must be submitted to the City Council at their next meeting. We have today the ordinance and it's signed by all the of the students who are in the 6th grade class. They are the citizens of Chicago who are submitting this ordinance. They want a hearing by the committee and get it enacted into the ordinances of Chicago," Quinn said.

Ordinances prohibiting single use Styrofoam containers have been enacted recently in major cities across the country including New York, San Francisco, Miami, Portland, Seattle and Washington D.C.

  Science teacher Vicky Drewa says her students are studying climate change.
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

"Chicago is the third largest city in the nation. Other places like New York City, LA County and the whole state of Maine have banned Polystyrene. I think Chicago should be a part of that change," said student, Tamia. 

"They need to do something now to save the planet. It's their future, it's their planet. They need to something now to stop it, because I'm not going to be here as long as they are. They want to make a change. They want a better future for themselves and they understand that. They can't wait for adults to do it," Drewa said. 

The next meeting of the Chicago City Council is July 24.