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Climate symposium draws hundreds

The sixth annual Ransom Everglades Climate Symposium brought hundreds to the upper school for a festival of research and learning focused on climate solutions. The April 13 environmental extravaganza was highlighted by nearly 300 student projects and a keynote address by University of Miami professor and environmentally focused artist Xavier Cortada. It also featured an Eco Fair of sustainable businesses and a zero-waste, plastic-free, all-vegetarian food court.
"The theme of this evening’s symposium is climate solutions," said RE's Director of Environmental Sustainability Kelly Jackson. "Students are not focusing on the gloom and doom so much as what can we all do – how can we solve the climate crisis. What actions can we take to bring awareness to the issue, reduce our carbon footprint, and make small impacts that add up to big changes in our school, in our homes, in our community, in our city and beyond."
 
RE’s sixth graders produced interdisciplinary projects in the sciences and social sciences designed to ignite a social movement for climate action; they targeted three primary aspects of social change: political pressure, economic pressure and social pressure. Many seventh graders and upper schoolers also created posters or projects and, for the first time, students in Breakthrough Miami participated. Awards for best projects were presented at the end of the night.
 
Jackson opened the event, welcoming Cortada, who joined her at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, last November. Cortada provided hope and inspiration to the audience: “the boys and girls sitting in those seats are the ones who will lead us into the future with empathy, creativity and science.” Students and families had the opportunity to participate in Cortada’s “HELLO” project by putting their hopes, aspirations and more on the name badges on their chests.

"Today, you think beyond who you are as an awesome member of your family, and you start thinking of your role outside in the community," Cortada said. "That's called leadership ... A leader is what each and every single one of you is destined to be. And the reason I am telling you that isn't because you are cool. It is because we need you. We need your creativity, your passion, your talent ... thinking about how you connect with community, how you build community, how you shine. Through your light, you let others shine."

Cortada followed up The CLEO Institute Executive Director Yoca Arditi-Rocha, who told upper school students they have the power to reverse the climate crisis on April 5 during Earth Week.

Jackson also introduced Head of School Penny Townsend and the members of RE’s Students for Solar – Madison Munroe ’22, Wirth Munroe ’22, Julian Stancioff ’22 and Daniel Stancioff ’23 – who were instrumental in pushing Ransom Everglades to install 305 solar panels on the roof of the Anderson gymnasium this spring.
 
Simone Carrasco ’27, a member of the RE Green Team, urged guests to consider a plant-rich diet, composting and reducing food waste, describing them as easy and effective ways of helping to combat climate change. Cameron Ferguson, the Dean of the Sixth Grade, and science teacher Brooke Gintert also offered remarks before guests were encouraged to peruse the many projects on display in the Fernandez STEM Center.
 
Event-goers enjoyed a vegetarian dinner catered by Sidewalk Salads, and food was served with compostable plates, cups and napkins and birchwood utensils. Compost for Life bins were placed around the quad instead of trash bins, and all “waste” from dinner was composted (food scraps, plates, utensils, cups) went into compost bins. Other vendors included Goldin Solar, which installed the solar panels on the roof of the gymnasium, and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s Connect to Protect Network, a citizen science program that enlists South Florida residents to plant native plants. NaMa Native Landscapes informed guests about native plants and their butterfly garden starter kits.
 
Non-profits Miami Youth Climate Summit, Debris Free Oceans, and Miami Waterkeeper also attended.

Student poster awards were presented at the conclusion of the evening and during Earth Week science classes:

Kelly Jackson’s Sixth-Grade Classes
Period 2
Most Innovative: Harlan Hoenig ’28 “Extractive Aquaculture; Food for the Future”
Most Unique: Stella Steinbook ’28 “Fast Fashion”
Most Creative: Andy Lamar ’28 “Electric Trains” 
Best Aesthetics: Nica Rosenberg ’28 “Reducing Food Waste”
Best Overall: Paulina Duenas ’28 “Composting” 
Science Award: Eleanor Kriplen '28 “The Power of Aerobic Rice”

Period 3
Most Innovative: Oliver Montoya ’28 “Reinventing Renewable Energy with Wave Energy”
Most Unique: Celia Prescott ’28 “Small Hydropower”
Most Creative: Andrea Guajardo ’28 “Marine Permaculture”
Best Aesthetics: Nina Cooper ’28 “Diet for Climate” 
Best Overall: Natalie Miquilarena ’28 “Bioplastics”
Science Award: Alex Tevelow '28 “Geothermal Energy”

Period 4
Most Innovative: Diego Andrade ’28 “Benefits of Wind Energy”
Most Unique: Camilo Miguel ’28 “Net-Zero Buildings”
Most Creative: Ivanna Barroso ’28 “Educate, Do Not Discriminate”
Best Aesthetics: Flavia Contreras ’28 “Plant-Rich Diet”
Best Overall: Vince Frankel ’28 “Wind Today, Greener Tomorrow”
Science Award: Austin Gomez ‘28 “Geothermal Energy”
 
Brooke Gintert’s Sixth-Grade Classes 
Period 1
Most Innovative: Amalia Macias ’28 “Coastal Wetland Protection”
Most Unique: Aleko Katsoufis ’28 “Electric and Efficient Transportation” 
Most Creative: Alijah Mourning ’28 “Recycled Footwear”
Best Aesthetics: Inti Yankelevich ’28 “Solar Microgrids”
Best Overall: Alex Quintero Kontopoulos ’28 “Marine Permaculture”

Period 5
Most Innovative: Josephine Louis ’28 “Coastal Wetland Protection”
Most Unique: Erica Gardiner ’28 “Educating Women and Girls” 
Most Creative: Jagger Rodriguez ’28 “Electrifying Cities”
Best Aesthetics: Sofia Velazco ’28 “LED Lighting” 
Best Overall: Maya Bhandari ’28 “Bamboo” 
Science Award: Cece Moyle  ’28 “Marine Permaculture” 
Science Award: Lila Yale  ’28 “Plant-Rich Diets”

Period 6
Most Innovative: Daniel Li ’28 “Magnificent Microgrids”
Most Unique: Isaac Zide ’28 “Electric Aviation”
Most Creative: Jorge Gross ’28 “Stop The Cycle, Ride a Bicycle” 
Best Aesthetics: Isabella Stewart ’28 “Afforestation” 
Best Overall: Alyson Kaplan ’28 “Let's Ride Together”
Science Award: Izzy Diamond  ’28 “Endangered Everglades”
Science Award: Andrea Medina  ’28 “Educating Women and Girls”

Period 7 
Most Innovative & Best Overall: Amalia Ulloa ’28 “Build A Future for the Environmental Engineers” 
Most Unique: Sawyer Nelson-Montet ’28 “Lighting the Path”
Most Creative: Jack Akselrad ’28 “From Gigaton to Gigavolt”
Best Aesthetics: Misha Gowda ’28 “Stay Clean Go Green”
Science Award: Ria Bhandari  ’28 “Perfectly Plant-Based”

Robin Escobedo’s Sixth-Grade Class 
Citizen science heat sensor projects: Webber Druckerman ’28, Henry Greengrass ’28, Cici Cisneros ’28, Quinnard Mays ’28, Lucas Echavarria ’28
 
Don Kappelman’s Sixth-Grade Class
“Solar Energy” Maya Calle ’28 and Tova Katz ’28
 
Alexandria Gunner’s Seventh-Grade Classes
“Poverty: The Price They Pay for Climate Change” by Noa Garcia ’27, Tess Pearson ’27, Dylan Turkel ’27, and Caitlyn White ’27
 
“Climate Change: How Communities are Affected by Natural Disasters” by Chloe Steinberg ’27 and Lila Mosse ’27
 
Bridgette Laskey’s Seventh-Grade Classes 
Overall Presentation Skills
"Air pollution:The Silent Slaughter" by Diego Lopez-Ona ’27, Lucas Gonzalez ‘27 and Winston Hosford ’27
 
Educational
"Vector Borne Disease: A Developing Nightmare" by Azza Tatum- Sullivan ’27, Henry Whited ’27, Lucas Lafosse-Marin ’27, and Zachary Corbin-Cheah ’27
 
Creative
"Changes in Our Climate; The Effects of Biomedical Waste" by Arhan Shah ’27, Clemen Gonzalez Bergoderi ’27, Sam Bussel Alonso ’27, and Myla Zuckerman ’27
 
"Bye Biomedical Waste. Hello Clean Future" by Alexandra Ansin ’27, Isabella Copetti ’27 and Olivia Gomez ’27
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Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.