CLEARWATER, Fla. — A group of diligent Clearwater students has totally transformed their school in the past year. The kids at Saint Paul’s School decided to use their daily brainstorming sessions to identify problems in their classrooms.

The result is a more eco-friendly school that has earned a rare certification.

The school was recognized by Ocean Allies on Wednesday afternoon in a short ceremony. Ocean Allies is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that originated in Clearwater Beach, Florida and is dedicated to merging the goals of conservation, tourism and business by educating the public about ocean health and the real-life benefits experienced by businesses that become ocean-friendly, according to its website.

“We work to inspire whole communities to make simple switches to protect the marine ecosystems vital to human health and hearts around the world.”

Representatives congratulated the students on their efforts to make their school more ocean-friendly. Only one other school in the world has been honored this way by Ocean Allies.

“These kids are the reason we should be doing anything about taking care of our environment. These kids are really something. They are fantastic," said Ocean Allies Founder Sheri Heilman. “They’re going to be the change. They are going to be the ones that make this happen."

The goal for Saint Paul's School was to create a more mindful community that is more aware of its food and paper waste. 

“I think we’re all very passionate about it so we got in a group and started thinking about things we wanted to improve around our school," said fifth-grader Mia Wilber.

Students expressed their concerns for the environment over four arenas:

Mindfulness
"Here at Saint Paul’s we are the Mindfulness Group and we helped the school become more mindful. Here are some examples of things we will do to be more mindful and present: breathe deeply, close your eyes and think of positive thoughts, get in a comfortable spot, etc. We hope that being more mindful will make us better students, better stewards of the earth, and better people."

-Chase, Lauren, Matteo, Lilly, Elizabeth, Amina

Food and Water Conservation
"We are the Food Waste Group. We are working with the Families in Need group and our goal is to waste less food at Saint Paul’s. We have set up a system that our students save untouched our unopened foods, which will be collected by our group and then be sent to a place in need. Here at Saint Paul’s, we have also set up a compost system to compost compostable food daily and then use it in Saint Paul’s greenhouse! Thanks!"

-Abby, Jake, John, Pauline, Ariella, Trenton

Families in Need
"We are making a chart for families in 5th grade to sign upbringing leftover food from lunch to homeless shelters. Families will sign up on a chart, then they are going to write down what homeless shelter they will be going too. Every Friday a 5th grade family member will bring the leftover food from lunch to a homeless shelter nearby. We are trying to make it so every Friday a new homeless shelter gets a bag of unopened or untouched food!"

-Robert, Hudson, Whittney, Aiden, Spencer, Grace, Nala, Bailey

Paper and Electricity Conservation
"Hello, we are the paper and electricity group and we have reached out to Pinellas County to get free recycling bins for our school. We have made a schedule for the recycling bins to be responsible for recycling. We have also made a poster to put in front of the copiers to remind people to save paper and recycle. The last thing we have done is to contact Mr. James our maintenance about the light bulbs to see what type and how many volts they use."

-Noah, Mia, Kawika, Hayden, Aiden, Jake

The Saint Paul’s students earned ocean-friendly status by creating a sustainability plan and solving eco-problems over the course of a year.

Kids, there, are given 30 minutes per day as free-thinking time. They set up plans of action to donate unused food and water, cut down on paper usage, and teach sustainability by building compost containers to be used outdoors for the chickens on campus.

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