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Release Date: 3/20/1998
Contact Information: Lois Grunwald, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1588

     (San Francisco)-- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) Regional Administrator Felicia Marcus announced that the sixth grade classes of Tanapag Elementary School on the island of Saipan will be honored as the1997 regional winner of the President's Environmental Youth Awards program.

      "These young students not only increased their own knowledge about the significance of coral reefs to their island community, but through their outreach efforts they spread the word about this important environmental resource to all who live on Saipan," said EPA Regional Administrator Marcus.

     The classes of  Ron Snyder and Steve Austin formed a joint project with the aim of learning all about coral reefs.  They constructed a life-sized model of a reef in one of their classrooms and stocked it with papier-mache sea life as small as a sand dollar and as large as a black-tipped shark.  They invited guest speakers, took field trips, and participated in beach cleanups collecting a ton of trash. To make a point, the teachers scattered some of the trash on their model reef.  When the students discovered this desecration, they were outraged until they realized that it exemplified that too much human garbage reaches the ocean where it attacks reef life. The students and teachers sponsored a "coral reef day" and invited parents, community leaders, and the press. They painted a mural on a wall alongside the road so that passersbys could observe their concern for coral. They joined with others who opposed a development near sensitive reefs, and created a web page to spread the word to other schools and the world.

     Sam Saito, representing the students, and his teacher Ron Snyder will join with other regional winners at a national ceremony in Washington, D.C. on March 26, 1998 where they will receive plaques presented by EPA Administrator Carol Browner.

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