April 16, 2008 11:30 ET

Lake Charles Students Win National Recognition for Environmental Action

Lexus Awards More Than $1 Million in Grants and Scholarships

LAKE CHARLES, LA--(Marketwire - April 16, 2008) - A team of nine students from St. Margaret Catholic School will be celebrating this Earth Day. Not only have they done their part to protect the planet, they've also emerged as one of only 14 first place teams throughout the country who have each won $50,000 in the Lexus Environmental Challenge, a national competition designed by Lexus and Scholastic to educate and empower teens to think big about possible solutions that could make a positive impact on the environment.

St. Margaret Catholic School will receive a grant for $10,000, the teacher advisor will get a $5,000 grant, and the students will share $35,000 in scholarships. Throughout the seven-month-long environmental education program and contest, more than $1 million in grants and scholarships have been awarded.

"When we introduced this challenge, we really had no idea what kind of programs the students would dream up," said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager. "Well, now we know they're not afraid to dream big, and act on those dreams. We were amazed at all the teams' innovative ideas, their ingenuity and their pure passion for the topics they chose to address. It's exciting to see these young people discover their voices and learn they have the power to make a difference."

The "St. Margaret Science Club" team focused their Final Challenge efforts on conservation. To educate individuals about ways to conserve resources, the students spread the word about various ways to recycle and conserve energy and worked with energy companies to raise awareness about the benefits of Green Energy. Additionally, the team created a campaign, "Change a Light to Save the World," and promoted it through its Web site and blog, local community groups, and by creating a video they posted on YouTube.

The team's teacher advisor Judy Reeves commented, "The Scholastic/Lexus project kept my group on the move this year. This project helped me and my students gain a better understanding of our planet and our part in the big picture. By starting our project in the community and then bringing it out into the state and the world, we identified how a small group could make a large impact."

The final winners were selected from 55 teams that qualified for this Final Challenge by winning in one or more of the four previous Challenges that were held from September to February. These initial Challenges, addressing land, air, water and climate, asked teams to take a stand for the environment in their local community and winning teams in these categories each won $3,000. The Final Challenge required teams to reach beyond the local community and inspire environmental action around the world through innovative ideas that were communicated to a wide audience.

The Lexus Environmental Challenge will enter its second year in fall 2008. Teachers and students are encouraged to visit to view all the winning entries and to learn how they can take part in next year's program.

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