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Water Guardians recognized on Assembly floor
Washington Middle School Water Guardians, Angeline Dequit, Jessica Gallegos, Fiona Paredes, Alma Spicher, Vanessa Canchola and June Kim, led by former CalTAC member Dr. Sue Pritchard, receive recognition on the floor of the State of California Assembly from Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang.

CalTAC Alumna Guides Middle School Water Guardians to Success

By M. DANIEL DECILLIS | April 4, 2016

A group of girls from Washington Middle School in La Habra has been making waves with their plans for helping schools to save water. The Water Guardians have been recognized for their outstanding service and dedication at the district, city, and state levels, and their message of conservation continues to find widespread support at each step. And it started when a member of the California Teacher Advisory Council (CalTAC) made a connection with her state representative.

"CalTAC is all about making connections between the classroom and the world of public and education policy," said Sue Pritchard, who served on CalTAC from 2007-2011. "When I was selected for CalTAC I was encouraged to connect with my state representative. The relationship I developed with the office of [then] Assembly Member Bob Huff and his director Tim Shaw enabled us to get the Water Guardians the attention they deserved."

The Water Guardians have developed several resources including videos and PDF packets which provide ideas for schools to save water, such as using drip irrigation systems for landscaping and replacing existing toilets with low-flow toilet models. Their message has been positively received at every step.

"I reached out to Mr. Shaw to help the Water Guardians get an audience with the La Habra City Council," said Pritchard. "This appearance snowballed into more appearances, leading up to meetings with more state policy makers and, ultimately, recognition in the California State Senate and Assembly."

State Assembly Woman Ling Ling Chang formally recognized the Guardians on the floor of the Assembly, and State Senator Bob Huff on the floor of the Senate.

"I am very proud of these exceptional students from the 29th district," said State Senator Bob Huff. "On behalf of the California State Senate, we proudly extend to you the honor you so deserve."

Capping off their success, the Guardians tied for first place in the 2015-2016 Lexus Eco Challenge, winning a total of $25,000 for their overall performance in the Land and Water category.

Pritchard, a National Board Certified, award-winning teacher who serves as the Water Guardians' mentor, says that the successful connection of the Guardians' message with policymakers has a lot to do with her experience in CalTAC.

"When I had the privilege of attending last fall's 10th anniversary of CalTAC, I thought of the many ways my work with CalTAC both enriched my life and gave me more tools to enrich the lives of my students," said Pritchard. "The connections and relationships I built as a CalTAC member have directly contributed to the avalanche of support that this team has found. It's a terrific example of how reaching out can make a huge difference."

Despite their very busy year, the Water Guardians continue to look forward, hoping to encourage legislation to implement some of their suggestions statewide.

"These girls are poised to solve the world's water problems," said Assembly Woman Chang. "I can't wait to see what their future holds."

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