Monday, March 16, 2009 | 6:20 p.m.
Five Bishop Gorman High School students are national finalists in a water conservation competition that could earn them $50,000 in grants and scholarships.
"It's good for us that we can reach out nationally and get help for college tuition," said 16-year-old Rupali Sood, who is on the team.
The Water Competition of the Lexus Eco Challenge encourages middle and high school students to start community environmental programs. The Bishop Gorman team — which calls itself the EnvironMENTALists — created a plan to support water conservation in Las Vegas by advocating for pool covers.
Pool owners can save 1,000 gallons of water a month and save up to 50 to 70 percent in heating and energy costs by using pool covers. To increase awareness, the team met with several local officials and went door-to-door to 125 homes with pools.
"A lot of people have pool covers but they don't know the benefit of using them," Rupali said.
Through the competition, she and juniors Alyna Drury, Pia Muyot, Cara Palmer and Nina Thynne have earned about $10,000 for their school, classroom and club supplies, and teen scholarships.
Next, the team will compete against 17 other groups for the final grand prize. The winners of the Lexus Eco Challenge will be announced in April in conjunction with Earth Day. For this stage, the teens must contact schools around the world to spread their water conservation message.
"It's interesting to reach out to people nationally and globally," said Palmer, 16. "We're translating our message into French, Polish and German."
They plan to send out more than 30 e-mails.
The team also will continue to raise awareness locally by participating in events such as World Water Day, which will be hosted by the Springs Preserve and the Youth Advisory Council on March 21.
The Lexus Eco Challenge, created by the luxury automaker and Scholastic, the global children's publishing, education and media company, was created to educate young people about the environment and to inspire them to create a better world.
For more information, visit www.scholastic.com/lexus.