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Midvale Journal

New Earth Club gains popularity at Hillcrest High before first meeting

Sep 29, 2020 10:23AM ● By Julie Slama

Hillcrest High School’s Earth Club was founded and organized online by sophomores Andrew and Rian Liew, Michael Chen, and Sofia Moeinvaziri. (Screenshot from Michael Chen/Hillcrest High)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Two weeks into the school year and the newly formed Earth Club has yet to meet at Hillcrest High as health guidelines recommend students leave at the dismissal bell. Even more complicated is that some members are studying online while others are physically at the school so meeting in person may have to wait until COVID-19 pandemic guidelines change.

However, more and more students—near 60—have heard about the club and already are telling the founders— sophomores Michael Chen, Sofia Moeinvaziri, and Rian and Andrew Liew—they want to be a part of the environment-focused group.

“We want to reduce food waste and give back to the environment,” Sofia said. “We’ll be extending our efforts to provide environment service projects.”

Michael said that the initial reason for creating the club was to create a composting program for the high school and have the club run it. But then, they started talking and realized they could incorporate more into the club, such as overseeing the school’s garden, which has vegetable plants in the courtyard. 

Michael and Sofia and another friend, Lisa Hishijima, teamed up at Midvale Middle School to create a share table where students could share food items instead of throwing them away. This was after they counted more than 4,300 items thrown away during 10 school days, Sofia said.

“There were lots of packages of raisins and oranges students didn’t eat. We were able to set up a way to share the food, so it wasn’t wasted. It’s not the effective way, so that’s why we started looking at other ways here,” she said.

Their share table was still in effect a year after they left the school—until soft closure shut down all schools last spring. However, Michael said that they felt that composting would be a better way at the high school.

“We could compost food waste in the cafeteria and other areas, even branches and leaves,” he said, adding that the students were working with Canyons School District officials to obtain permission to create a composting program. “We’re finding a solution to a problem at school and it will be profiting the school. We can use the compost in the school garden.”

Andrew, who with his brother, Rian, helped with the share table in middle school, said that he would like to see a reduction in food waste, especially after reading several articles about the topic.

“We were going to do a waste audit this past spring, but that wasn’t possible when the pandemic closed the school,” he said. “We need to think about activism and making the world more sustainable. Through gardening and compositing, we can make a difference.”

The club plans to harvest the items in the school garden this year and share them with faculty and staff this fall.

“We want to thank them for working during this difficult time of COVID,” Michael said, adding that in the future, they’d like to look into sharing with others in need the fresh fruit and vegetables grown at the school.

Rian is excited about providing service related to the environment, whether it’s a clean-up project in a park or planting of trees and flowers.

“We can make a positive change, an impact to the environment,” he said. “Any change we can do will make it better.”

The group also hopes to hold some fun activities—once allowed by the COVID-19 school guidelines—including a salsa party where they may team up with Latinos in Action to eat salsa and dance the salsa and they’re looking into a squash and pumpkin painting party. The club may also hold an Earth Day assembly and invite a guest speaker.

“We want to hold community events and raise awareness,” Rian said.

Michael said that there may be a charge involved in some activities, which then will be donated to an environmental cause decided on by the Earth Club.

“We’re the next generation and we want to make sure that we are environmentally aware and will sustain the planet as long as possible,” he said. “Students want to do service and they’re wanting to help the world anyway we can.”

Sofia said that Earth Club will give more students leadership opportunities about the environment they care about and it could potentially spark an interest and gear them toward studying more about the environment or a career in the field.

“We want students to be more concerned about the environment, become more involved if it’s in the garden or participating in our activities, and become motivated to help and provide service, whether it’s for clean air or coral life preservation,” she said.