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Sunset High seniors Westin Boyd and Jessica Fong lead the bimonthly drives for Styrofoam and battery recycling.

COURTESY: SHS CLIMATE CHANGE CLUB - Sunset High School Climate Change Club.Sunset High School seniors Westin Boyd and Jessica Fong are committed to making a difference in their community.

The two students are co-presidents of their high school's Climate Change Club.

Just like it sounds, the club meets once per week after school to discuss climate news and group updates. But Boyd and Fong take it a step further.

Once about every two months, the club hosts recycling drives for the Beaverton community. The students collect Styrofoam and batteries to bring to local facilities that accept the items.

The students even rent a truck each time, and it fills up.

"Doing the work for this club, it's just had such an impact on the community," Boyd said. "And it's just so heartwarming to see how people light up when they hear that we're offering these services."

It's inspiring to see everyone come together at the recycling drives, he said.

Fong became co-president at the beginning of her junior year. The year before, she discovered that Agilyx, a recycling facility in Tigard, accepted Styrofoam. Fong wanted to do something to bring the resource to her local community.

So, she started the first Styrofoam recycling drive. At first, Fong just put a box out on the sidewalk.

It was just Fong and her parents, she said, and they didn't think they'd need any help. After they came back, the box was overflowing and the sidewalk was filled.

"We were trying to fit it all in our cars, and I think we took a couple of trips to Agilyx and the school," she said. "And then I think we also ended up renting a U-Haul that day, because otherwise we would just take so many trips back and forth."COURTESY: SHS CLIMATE CHANGE CLUB - Sunset High School Climate Change Club.

Fong and Boyd laughed recalling the first drive.

"I wish I could find a picture, because it was insane," said Boyd, who became co-president alongside Fong for their senior year. "We didn't realize just how much Styrofoam people had on their hands."

Though the first time was a bit of a mess, the students said now they've got it down. The recycling drives go smoothly thanks to student volunteers; then their advisor, teacher Andrew Brown, brings the materials to the recycling facilities.

The next drive is planned for Saturday, April 23. The one after that will probably be on June 4, the students said.

Besides the recycling drives, the Climate Change Club also has plans to host an event to encourage people to purchase — or even trade — secondhand clothing. They've already planted blueberry bushes at Sunset High, made an Earth Day video series and created posters and infographics on climate change topics, too.

The co-presidents also want to bring together climate change clubs from other high schools in the Beaverton School District, they said, and invite local organizations like Sunrise Beaverton. The climate summit is in the early planning stages, but they hope it'll be sometime in May.

Boyd also received an Earth Day Scholarship from the National Society of High School Scholars, or NSHSS, Foundation. He was one of 10 students to get the $500 scholarship for his environmental activism.COURTESY: SHS CLIMATE CHANGE CLUB - Sunset High School Climate Change Club.

Through its website and social media, the SHS Climate Change Club is able to spread awareness about climate change, promote its local events and grow the club at Sunset High — in fact, it now has about 50 students on its mailing list.

The club leadership's passion for encouraging environmental activism helps the cause, too.

"Every single small action — your daily lifestyle, your daily habits," Fong said, "you can make a difference through thinking about those and being aware."

And both co-presidents hope their work will have an even bigger impact.

"Keep discussing with the people around you and people in the community. Have those discussions," Boyd said. "Someone might make a connection and realize that something in your community should be changed, and you might not even realize it yourself."


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