The Sustainability Scholars of  Ipswich High School will tell you that living in a town so close to the ocean makes them respectful of their beautiful surroundings. “We learned to respect the ocean and our surroundings early on and it was never socially acceptable to litter”, one student tells W2O.  

Flash forward to these young women entering Lori LaFrance’s 11th-grade classroom where they were challenged to design their own curriculum and research a sustainability topic of their choosing to focus on for the year.  Students say that this sustainability class prepared them for college and beyond by encouraging them to take action on real-world problems and by placing them in situations of negotiation and communication with adults in civic engagement. Veteran teacher, Lori LaFrance, will humbly tell you that she is proud of the successful outcomes, but from the students, we know that a particularly thoughtful and talented teacher mentored them.

Five members of the Ipswich High School Sustainability class chose to tackle the issue of single-use plastic waste by writing a bylaw that would ban plastic carryout bags and polystyrene. For their incredible work, Nicole Whitten, a member of the Ipswich Recycling and Advisory Committee, nominated the five students and their teacher for the Women Working for Oceans 2017 Ocean Spirit Award because, she says, “They not only made their community aware of the dangers of plastic pollution in written form but with the help of their teacher, also researched, talked to local businesses to get their support, and then took action. The girls put together a convincing presentation explaining the dangers surrounding the use of both single-use plastic bags and Styrofoam containers.  A few citizens in the audience had questions and raised concerns; the girls were prepared for these objections and answered with confidence and facts.”

The Ocean Spirit Award is given to the person or group that has encompassed Women Working for Ocean’s mission of educating and inspiring action using grassroots initiatives towards protecting our blue planet.

For their passionate work on the successful ban of single-use plastic and polystyrene in the town of Ipswich Massachusetts, Women Working for Oceans and their members are delighted to award the 2017 Ocean Spirit Award to:

Lori LaFrance and Ipswich High School’s Sustainability Scholars: Charlotte Howe, Claire McElwain, Carly Restuccia, Jillian Wall and Claire Werner.