Turlock classroom finalist for big green prize

TURLOCK -- Sixth-graders at Walnut Elementary Education Center want your vote.

Denise Loomis' class is among 10 finalists in a national contest to name "America's Greenest School," sponsored by IC Bus. The winner, determined by the number of votes generated in the next two weeks, will get a $150,000 hybrid bus from the Illinois-based company, $20,000 for green improvements at the school, $3,000 for the class and $500 for the teacher.

Loomis' class submitted a video showing off measures the science and math magnet school has taken to go green. That includes the worm bin, built and maintained by the sixth-graders, a compost pile, solar panel and a wind turbine. "We also gave out ideas people can do to go green at home," said Jordynn Kennell.

Students are eager to point out the worm bed they maintain and the compost they feed to their garden, plus the flowers and vegetables they grow. And eat, said student Marissa Belloli. Even the red chard.

Their teacher backs them up. "They keep asking when the broccoli will be done so they can eat it," she said.

Organizers said the contest, in its second year, drew entries from around the country.

"The bar was raised this year in terms of thoughtful, creative entries," said David Hillman, global marketing director for IC Bus and a contest judge.

"It is clear to us that there are so many students and teachers that make environmental responsibility in schools a daily priority, and we're happy to recognize them for their efforts."

Voting runs through April 2, and people can vote once per day. As of Monday afternoon, Loomis' class was closing in on 1,000 votes. A school from Falmouth, Maine, was leading the competition with 4,500 votes.

On the net:

Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at or 578-2343.