In her sophomore year at Oceanside High School, Rebecca Weissman learned about climate change in earth science class. That lesson sparked something in her that could impact the community for years to come.
Now a junior, Weissman is the founder of C.A.R.E., which stands for Community Activists Recovering Earth, a club at the high school that advocates for environmental awareness and raises funds for earth-friendly initiatives in the school and community.
“I thought it was amazing that it took me until my freshman year of high school to learn the science of climate change and how much it really impacts us,” Weissman explained. “We should be learning about climate change before we get to high school.”
She brought these concerns to earth science teacher Jeanette Wolfson, who is now the advisor of the C.A.R.E. club. “She told me that she was so inspired by my lessons and felt driven to want to do something and spread environmental awareness,” Wolfson said.
Wolfson has taught in the district for 19 years, and this is her first time running a club. She and Weissman met during summer 2018 to discuss plans, and the group officially kicked off in fall 2018. “Becca was the real brainchild of this club and was full of great ideas,” Wolfson said.
Throughout the 2018-19 school year, club members collected plastic bottles from the school’s recycling bins every Friday. They took large bags filled with bottles to supermarkets and exchanged them for cash. With the money raised, they purchased a water filling station, which was installed at the high school in August. It’s been up and running for about three weeks now.
“I see students, teachers and staff filling up their bottles all day long,” Wolfson said. “It has a counter on it and lets you know how many bottles have been saved by reusing the ones brought in. It’s all so exciting.”
“There’s been a change in the mindset and how people think about plastic,” Weissman added.
Now, three more water filling stations are on the way. Inspired by C.A.R.E.’s efforts, the high school’s PTA purchased more to be installed in other hallways.
“Our PTA was so happy and proud to be able to provide the school with three new filtered water stations,” said Debbie Schneider, past PTA president. “Not only does it provide our students with fresh water, it also minimizes the amount of water bottles wasted. The students can refill as many times as they like.”
With her strong passion for environmental causes, Weissman made it clear that C.A.R.E. is just getting started. The club has about 90 members that volunteer at events and raise money. As the club enters its second year, its members said they hope to raise enough to plant trees outside the high school and around town.
In addition, the club hosted a beach clean up in Bay Park on Oct. 4. They will hold another in the spring, and will visit elementary school classrooms to give lessons on the environment and climate science. “That’s one of the coolest things we do,” Weissman said. “It’s different for each grade, with different activities.”