Director’s Message

It has been a pleasure to welcome new and returning students to this 2020-2021 academic school year. I have been inspired by the students’ dedication and engagement as they take on a new kind of learning at an accelerated pace. This community continues to show great resilience amidst these times of wading through a global pandemic, the depths of climate change, politics, and social unrest. These times highlight the importance of the environmental stewardship that MarinSEL ignites and I am inspired every day by the bright hope and fierce passion in our students. 

The MarinSEL teachers and students continue to make this program extremely rich despite transitioning out of the physical classroom. I was lucky enough to be a guest judge for a spoken poetry competition in Karen Arcangelo’s english class recently, in which I was deeply moved by the thoughtful words of the students. (To read some of the poems, see below.) In Ray McClintock’s 9th grade geography class, students recently engaged in an intellectual debate about water distribution. Additionally, a special thank you to Elizabeth Bagley for introducing Project Drawdown, a framework which is used to maximize carbon mitigation, to our students. Students have taken this project into multiple aspects of their work, especially LEAD projects. 

MarinSEL students have been engaging with our community through real internships with esteemed local organizations, looking closely at the impacts of wildfires in Marin guided by their passion for climate resiliency, and even publishing poignant letters to the editor in their spare time. MarinSEL students are contributing to the forward movement of our community in a time when it is easy to feel overwhelmed into inaction. The adaptations and momentum of the students and teachers in this program is unparalleled.

Climate resilience is key to survive our current global challenges. And yet certain communities, certain students, do not have equitable access to resources to achieve this. In MarinSEL, we strive to address racial injustice and social inequity as an integral part of the climate crisis. A current LEAD group of 10th grade students is working to engage a local underserved Latinx community to identify obstacles to park access. The students’ determination to develop resources and processes to offset structural barriers to this right is encouraging. However, the work to address racial injustice must go beyond the students. All MarinSEL staff and teachers will undergo a racial equity training in the coming months. This is a crucial step on our journey to holistically address the climate crisis, which includes advancing racial justice; there is much more work to be done. This is only the beginning.

This year, our budget is very tight. In addition to enriching curriculum for rigorous problem-based learning in a virtual context, and access to sustainability field resources to students, we want to increase our focus on equity and continue to provide high quality training to better prepare ourselves to serve the students and our community. Without the ability to do traditional fundraisers, we ask you to contribute what you can so that we can not only maintain our level of vigor and commitment to MarinSEL students, but elevate our efforts. We can not begin to thank you enough for the support we have already received! Funding to continue to make our program richer is needed now more than ever. 

I look forward to the outcomes of the brilliant work from the students with guidance of our excellent teachers. Thank you for the contributions that have already been made. I continue to have the utmost gratitude to the MarinSEL teachers, students, families, and our supportive community. We couldn’t do it without you! 


Best Regards,

Cyane Dandridge


Friday the 13th Fundraiser! 

On Friday November 13th, MarinSEL families, students and staff came together for the fall fundraiser! This fundraiser was organized and facilitated by students, with the aid of a small parent committee, who made it a wonderful success!

There was a friendly and lively trivia competition, a 4C’s costume contest with wonderful contestants, and a successful live auction with generous items donated from the MarinSEL community. 

This was a great opportunity to interact with our supportive, kind, and fun community! It was refreshing to see families and students laughing amongst each other and putting brains together to answer some tough trivia questions.

Thank you to all who were able to attend and support MarinSEL! Your contributions are greatly appreciated.


I Am Not Less Than

by Sarah Mondesir

I Am Not Less Than

Racial Justice, Climate Change, and What We Can Do


Hello, my name is Sarah Mondesir, a MarinSEL Sophomore who is currently attending Terra Linda High School. My whole life, I have been noticing how I get treated differently from others solely because of the color of my skin. Not having many people who look like me living in Marin, I have to admit, has been pretty hard at times. Being a person of color, you notice how society treats you differently and how you as a person of color are viewed by others. Many times, I have had to face bullies and people who always put my racial identity and what society thinks of it before taking the time to understand and know who I am as a person. Because of this, I just ended up being in a dark place most of my childhood – mainly because I didn’t have anyone to turn to and also because I was ashamed of being Black, because of something I couldn’t control. 

Now, tired of this feeling and knowing that I should not be ashamed for being something that I can’t change, has made me be able to put my foot down and say, “No, I am not ugly, I am not worthless – I am a human being who should be accepted not because of what I am, but because of who I am.” After I started to sink into this mindset, I began viewing things a lot differently – mainly because I was able to escape a dark period and find myself. Having had that experience throughout my whole childhood, it has made me realize that I want to help people who may be going through similar situations. I want to be someone that they can look up to and ask questions to because I know what it’s like to not have someone who can relate to your experiences, to help you get through tough situations and to have the conversations that are needed. 

So this year I’ve decided to join a program called MCYC, which stands for Marin County Youth Commissions. I joined this program because I knew it would help me be able to take the first big step into reaching out and helping young children in my community who have faced discrimination, racism and more from others because of their race. MCYC is a program that was founded in 1969 and was made to act as a political voice for the youth. This program is a place where the youth and people from many marginalized groups – ranging from young people with disabilities to people that are a part of the LGBTQ+ community – go to make an actual change within their communities. 

In this program, we have a few subcommittees that focus on something that they believe needs to be brought up and discussed a lot more in their communities. This year I am a part of the Racial Equity Subcommittee. Our main goal for this year is to generate ideas and make strides toward a more equitable society. This year we plan to host a few anti-racist training seminars, to teach people how to be allies to BIPOCs  (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) and to integrate anti-racism into the classroom. We are hoping to reach out to many young students and teachers all over Marin. We feel that many teachers and schools can use better tools and ways of teaching in order to help educate their students properly about racism in the United States. Usually, when we are at school and are learning about slavery it seems as though some teachers down play a lot that has happened throughout history in order to make students feel comfortable in class. When I say students I mostly mean the white students. 

If we are being honest we are all living in a system that is and was made for the benefit of white people to succeed. Now, that does not mean white people in particular don’t suffer, it just means that the system we are currently living through supports white people at the detriment of BIPOCs. Because of this many schools all over America whitewash a lot of the history that is being taught. Whitewashing is pretty similar to greenwashing, when you think about it. Greenwashing, if you don’t know, is when a company or a group of people are conveying a false message about their products being environmentally friendly to deceive people for their benefit. This is very similar to the term whitewashing because it is used to show how American history, for example, has been changed and “simplified” to make a group of people look good. The most commonly known version of history has always been written by the dominant group, leaving gaps when it comes down to historical events. The history curriculum that’s being used in many schools has been “simplified” to the extent that many young people are able to overlook the challenges many groups of people have faced and are facing today. That is why we need to change how we are talking about the past.

Not just me, but many BIPOCs are trying to change the way our history is being taught, because at times it seems as though nobody cares about the struggles we had to face back then and now. People need to understand that we are only trying to express the pain and suffering that we still have to face today and tomorrow. We aren’t able to change our skin and race. Our physical features are permanent. And the system that is used to control and hurt those who are “different”, makes us feel small and trapped. Sometimes there are days where it feels like you are drowning in deep ocean waters and that there’s nothing you can do to save yourself. You feel hopeless and like you can’t escape the pain and the struggle. It feels like no matter how loud you cry out or how hard you work to save yourself, you are just plunging deeper and deeper into the darkness. You see, that’s why we need change, that’s why we crave a change within our society. It’s really scary to think about your future children living in a world where they would be discriminated against, hated, and maybe even murdered just because of “what” they are. I have three sisters, do you understand how sad and heart-wrenching it is to have to explain what can happen to them in the future? 

I’m saying this so people can understand how difficult it is for many BIPOCs to find their place here, in the United States. There’s a lot of people who aren’t fully understanding and grasping why racism is bad and why we all need to start working on forming equality among all people, no matter who or what they are. Because of this, a lot of people end up saying hurtful things like, “Slavery was just a long time ago,” or making insensitive “jokes” about something that has harmed a community as a whole to this day. When I speak out to students about the hurtfulness of these statements, they’ll usually end up saying, “Well I wasn’t educated enough about this topic,” as a way to justify their actions. Some may ask, “what’s wrong with saying that?” Well a lot of people, especially big influencers today, use that excuse to get out of situations where their actions have been called into question for being racist or bigoted, which can be very frustrating and damaging towards racial minority groups because we know they will never be held accountable and instead model this response as acceptable to society. Honestly, I just want to change how racial minority groups are portrayed and viewed today. I’m tired of being thought less of. We ALL are tired…

As a community concerned about the environment, racial equity and environmental protection can honestly go hand in hand with one another. That’s because they’re both something that we would all like to try to better. When we talk about racial equity, we want to make sure that justice is being applied to a system that negatively impacts BIPOCs. When we talk about our environment, we want to bring awareness and justice to a system that is accelerating climate change, which negatively impacts everyone, and especially BIPOCs, since racial injustice is deeply rooted within it. Both of these important issues can help people understand why it’s important to make sure that the system that has been created doesn’t pick and choose who to support, so that we can maybe all have the same education. And through that education, we can also inform many young people as to why our environment is important and why we need to start making sure we are taking care of it.

So far my group and I have just started mapping out what this year is going to look like and what we are planning to do to start working on the training seminars we are planning to have. We believe that we all can do better. And we hope our community will listen. 

Editor’s note: MarinSEL applauds the resilience, courage and leadership demonstrated by this student author and is grateful for the emotional work involved with sharing deeply personal lived experience for the education of the community around racial justice issues. Racial equity is a prominent focus of the MarinSEL program, and as such it is important to dialogue around the important themes addressed in this article, while centering the voices of students, staff, and community members from historically marginalized racial groups. To support the work around this, all MarinSEL instructors will be participating in a professional racial equity training this spring semester. There is much work to be done, but this is a crucial and necessary step.


Sustainable Enterprise Guest Speakers

by Jess Corr




Virtual school has some perks… 

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and closure of most academic institutions, it’s no surprise that we are cautious to accept and embrace this new way of virtual learning. Let’s be honest… it’s certainly not the most ideal learning environment for a project based class like those within MarinSEL. Face to face interaction, collaboration with others, and access to materials is a must! However, in times of great adversity and uncertainty like this one, it’s also the time to get creative. For myself, as a college student, I am facing similar academic challenges to the MarinSEL students; I understand that it can be challenging to grasp concepts through a screen, to stay on task, and to feel motivated. 

When I heard about the opportunity to build the Sustainable Enterprise Guest Speaker series as a part of a business class for the MarinSEL Juniors, I was immediately delighted and intrigued. What an awesome way to best take advantage of virtual school! It’s a lot easier to convince a busy professional to speak to a high school class under the preset that they don’t have to leave the comfort of their own homes… 

So that’s exactly what happened! After spending my own summer networking with business experts who personally inspired me, I joined the SEI team to help build the Sustainable Enterprise Guest Speaker series. Pulling from my own professional network coupled with my passion and ability to communicate with others, I set up informational interviews to conduct over zoom with the MarinSEL juniors in order to create a setting that is interactive and casual for both the speakers and the students.  

Having spent my entire summer networking and learning from business experts who inspire me, I have a biased opinion that this is the most valuable way to deliver education to high school students who identify as aspiring entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, and leaders. The real-world examples, advice, and stories that myself and the MarinSEL students are getting from these speakers are the most practical and life-long lessons a student can receive. The experience is memorable, personable, and extremely entertaining like no other class at Terra Linda.  

Meet a few of our speakers so far… 


Here’s what our students have to say… 

What’s been your favorite aspect or moment of the MSEL Speaker?  

“My favorite part of the speaker series is hearing about how they have dealt with failure and what they learned from it.”  

“I’ve loved hearing everyone’s personal stories!” 

“Hearing from business owners and their struggles building a business.” 

“I enjoy listening to their own personal experiences.” 

“Getting to ask them questions and hear their feedback.” 

What is the most important thing you’ve learned from the Speaker Series so far? What will you carry forward into the future with you?  

“I learned a lot about how you have to stick with it until you can turn a profit, so don’t give up too soon.” 

“Something that I have learned is how important it is to be transparent with your customers, and also how important it is to get customer feedback on products which I will carry into my work in the future.” 

“Don’t give up even though there will be obstacles and people who are unsupportive.” 

“I’ve learned the importance of putting your ideas and prototypes out there, even if the feedback isn’t great, especially when the feedback isn’t great. I’ve learned you can’t believe that everything will go perfectly and to expect failure and bumps in the road.” 

“I think I really just learned that everything is complicated and that there are always going to be a hundred more ways to think about what you’re doing!” 

What value have you gotten from the Speaker Series class that you haven’t gotten in your other classes at TL this fall? 

“Honest feedback.” 

“I have gotten the opportunity to talk with professionals in their fields of studies, and listen to their experiences and ask questions.”

“A chance to relax a bit and listen to the speakers’ stories and connect them to my own business.“ 

“Getting to hear inspirational speakers be totally truthful and candid about their experiences with business.” 

“Personalization, their feedback is personalized and it really works!” 

Looking to the Future… 

Virtual school will never replace in-person learning, but the MarinSEL class and faculty have demonstrated creativity and resilience towards creating an invaluable and educative experience for their students. These lessons will be long remembered in our post pandemic lives! 


Article written by Jessica Beth Corr. Questions?


MarinSEL Leadership Retreat

by Catherine Fahrner (Class of 2023)

While the retreat this year was definitely much different than it was in the past, it embodied the same principles and fun activities as always. Since we weren’t able to see each other in person this year, the retreat consisted of three days of group activities between classes on zoom. It definitely wasn’t the same, but we were able to reconnect with our class before school started back up, and the freshmen had a chance to get a feeling of highschool for the first time. 

As the retreat was virtual, we had to get creative with the activities in order to bring the same retreat feeling to the screen. I assisted in facilitating some of the activities including the Sustainable Street Design Thinking activity. In this activity, freshmen created their own sustainable streets. This allowed the new MarinSEL students to work together and think creatively. Some other activities that we participated in included grade level scavenger hunts, Meyers-Briggs workshops, bingo, an online escape room, and of course, the grade-wide song writing/performance. These activities allowed us to have fun while also learning more about each other. We also decided to have an evening section of the retreat where we all brought candy, movie treats, or a snack to mimic the campfire aspect that we usually get at the retreat. There, we did an online escape room. It went really well and everyone who participated was able to escape. Another great workshop was the Meyers Briggs workshop. If you don’t know what Meyer Briggs is, it is a personality quiz that categorizes you into four separate categories (extrovert/introvert, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving) with outcomes such as INFJ, ENTP, ISFP, and many more. 

A favorite activity amongst the students is always the song writing performance. Each grade chose a song and rewrote the words to fit the MarinSEL “theme”. This year, we were graced with the freshmen’s rendition of the Sophia the First theme song, the sophomore’s performance of the Spongebob Squarepants theme, the junior’s Friends theme song, and the senior’s last hoorah with Island in the Sun by Weezer.

We also engaged in a mindfulness session where we talked about the importance of meditation especially in our current situation. We did a session on the Calm app to destress and think about the situation that we’re in. Quarantine has been extremely rough on most of us, and we wanted to acknowledge that and create a space where everyone could reflect and just think for a while. After we were a little more grounded from the meditation, we talked about “Big Problems and Big Solutions.” We spoke about issues such as the pandemic, climate change, racial inequity, and discussed their root causes. 

Over the course of the 2020 retreat, we were able to bond and reconnect with our classmates and teachers, old and new. Although it definitely was not the same as being in person, it was an amazing bonding experience for all grades, especially the incoming freshmen. I remember how my freshman retreat really helped me solidify my close friendships as well as allowed me to meet the new people in my grade, and the grades above. It is definitely a memory that I hold dear to my heart and that I will never forget. I am so glad that we still had the opportunity to have our retreat this year, even though it was virtual, because it is a wonderful and educational experience that we all benefit from on a yearly basis.


Alumni Corner

By Catherine Fahrner (Class of 2023)

Molly Madden

What college are you currently attending and what are you majoring in?

I am attending California PolyTechnic University San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) and my major is Industrial Technology and Packaging.

How did MSEL impact you as a student and as a person

As a student MSEL helped me with time management, problem solving, and teamwork!!! As a person, MSEL has helped me to become more empathetic, and compassionate. MSEL also gave me perspective and helped improve my leadership skills. 

What was your favorite MSEL project and why

My favorite MSEL project was to create the chicken coop. I really loved the business and the LEAD projects that I did as well but it was satisfying seeing a project that I made with my own hands come to fruition. It was problem solving and teamwork on a whole nother level.

Why would you recommend MSEL to an incoming freshman?

I am so thankful for my experience in the MarinSEL program and what it has provided for me. The biggest reason I would recommend MSEL is because of the network that it provided for me. I think of course you get out of something what you put in so that speaks to my experience. I did a lot in the program between joining committees, working on projects and doing side activities with my peers and through that network that I created it opened so many opportunities for me.

If you hadn’t been in the MarinSEL program do you think you would have had the same opportunities? How did these opportunities benefit you?

If I had not been in the MarinSEL program I know that I wouldn’t have had the same amount of opportunities that I did. The whole reason I ended up at Cal Poly is because of the major that I discovered through MarinSEL. Industrial technology and packaging is a combo of business and engineering both of classes that I took in MarinSEL. I am hoping to add a sustainability minor too. I also had an internship at EO and I wouldn’t have been able to have that opportunity without the connection that I made freshman year during my LEAD project. 

What is one word of advice that you would give to the current highschoolers about the future?

One piece of advice that I would give to current high schoolers is that everything works out the way it is supposed to. Stress but don’t stress too hard, work hard but also enjoy what you are working on, FAIL means First Time in Learning, and create a network!


Jocelyn Tsai

What college are you currently attending and what are you majoring in?

I am attending University of Southern California (USC) Go Trojans! I am majoring in civil engineering with an environmental emphasis.

How did MarinSEL impact you as a person as well as a student?

Through this program, I gained invaluable skills like leadership, teamwork, and communication. I got hands-on experience working with the community and with my peers. MarinSEL showed me that I, as a student, could positively impact my community, which gave me self-confidence and a passion for helping others. 

What was your favorite MarinSEL project and why?

I really enjoyed the sustainable businesses junior year. I was part of Big Cheddar’s Seed Spreaders and we created seed spreaders to promote native plants. It was really fun brainstorming and building the products with my team. I got an insight into how startups work and was able to help solve a problem I cared about. 

Why would you recommend MarinSEL to incoming freshmen?

Definitely! MarinSEL opened my eyes to environmental leadership. I learned so many skills that I will carry with me and built so many meaningful relationships with my peers and teachers. 

If you hadn’t been in the MarinSEL program do you think you would have had the same opportunities? How did these opportunities benefit you?

I was only able to have certain opportunities through MarinSEL and its connections. Through MarinSEL, I was able to secure an environmental engineering internship that was very educational, and I was able to work on many different community outreach projects. MarinSEL is very well connected and by joining the program, I became part of the extensive network, which was very beneficial. The community knows what a MarinSEL student is. They are more willing to give you opportunities knowing that you are part of this program, since MarinSEL is so accomplished. 

What is one word of advice that you would give to the current highschoolers about the future?

Take advantage of any opportunity that comes your way. If there’s something you’re interested in, do it! Also, don’t be afraid to take initiative and reach out to teachers/community partners for opportunities.


MarinSEL Teacher Profile

Getting to know… Sara Frack!



By Alice Ostrovsky, parent class of 2019 & 2024

A little background: 

Sara Frack grew up in Marinwood and attended Mary E. Silveira Elementary School, Miller Creek Middle School, and Terra Linda High School (where each of her three sons now attend!). She earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology Education from the University of Maryland and a Master’s degree in English as a Second Language Teaching Methods from City University. Her years of hiking and biking in Marin and traveling on vacations gave her a passion for environmental protection. She and her husband live in Marinwood with their three boys. Sara loves gardening, hiking, walking her dogs, caring for her chickens, getting a cup of coffee with a friend, and reading when she gets a chance. 

Her ‘rep’: 

Ms. Frack is one of those teachers who strikes the balance of care and compassion, with high expectations and challenging content. Afterall, how many high school Biology teachers have a couch in their classroom and invite students to decompress there when they need a little down time? (well, when it’s not remote learning, that is!) She cultivates a collaborative learning environment, emphasizing creative thinking and the ‘why’ behind the science.

You and your husband live in the neighborhood and have three boys of your own in the local schools. What do you like about teaching in the same community you live?

I love having deep roots in the community. Because I grew up here, I currently live here, and I teach here, I certainly have deep roots. I enjoy going for a walk or to the grocery store and running into people I know, although my kids get really annoyed at me because they say that I jabber too much when I run into people!

As an alum yourself of TLHS, do you have any funny or particularly fond memories from your student days there? What’s changed and what’s stayed the same?

When I was a student at TLHS, there was a smoking section at the end of the 300 hall, by the amphitheater. I avoided walking anywhere near that area because I hated the smell of the smoke. I am disappointed that there was and still is a car culture at TL. I wish that walking, riding a bike, or taking the bus to school were more highly valued. One good thing about the car culture – the students are very interested in carpooling once they and their friends are driving! 

You’ve been one of the longest MarinSEL teachers and have seen it change and mature over the years. What keeps bringing you back to MarinSEL? What do you like most about the program and/or students?

MarinSEL provides students with a more holistic education. Teachers focus on imparting discipline-specific content, of course, but also public speaking skills, social justice, collaboration skills, creativity, and so much more. It is amazing to see the students grow in all these areas through their four years in MarinSEL.

This year you’re back teaching MarinSEL 9th grade Biology. What’s your favorite part of teaching that course and what challenges does the semester long online format bring?

I love the enthusiasm that the 9th grade MarinSEL students bring to class each day. It’s challenging to pace the class in the 4 x 4 schedule. Students feel like we are moving quickly, and they are right – we are moving quickly because we have to cover the material at twice the pace as a normal school year. I know how the students feel. Just when I feel like I can pause for a breath, I realize that I have to plan the next unit. It’s exhausting, but I love it. 

You teach 9th graders and 11th/12th graders. What are some of the differences or what do you enjoy about each? 

I enjoy students at all ages. Just like parenting, each age has wonderful aspects and difficult aspects. I love the enthusiasm that the younger students bring to school. High school is new to them, and they like to try new things to figure out what their interests are. Between 9th and 11th grade, the brain develops a lot, so the 11th graders are turning into young adults. That maturity allows them to figure out who they are and what they want to do in life. It is fun to see the people they are turning into.

APES has really grown in popularity at TLHS in recent years, and you always say it requires students to know some about a lot of different scientific disciplines and content. What’s your favorite aspect of APES? 

AP environmental science never gets boring because there is so much variety. It includes biology, chemistry, physics, meteorology, geology, sociology, economics, politics…. Topics that we study in APES are in the news everyday, so students see the importance in what we study. I love learning the topics more deeply and using the current events in my lessons. I think that young people today see that protecting the environment is important and can be an aspect of whatever career they choose.  

You have written a lot of college recommendations over the years and I’m sure you stay in touch with many former students. Whether or not your students go on to pursue natural science majors or related careers, what do you hope stays with them from your classes? 

I went into teaching because I wanted to protect the environment, and I decided that I can make a bigger difference by teaching students the value of environmental protection. I love it when one of my students chooses to study any science, but especially when they choose environmental science. All of us, no matter what we do in life, can have a positive or negative effect on the environment. I hope that students leave my class realizing that their daily choices make a difference. I also want them to learn that very little changes without good policies written by our governmental leaders. As citizens, it is our responsibility to demand that our leaders write the policies that will protect the environment for generations to come.

What do you miss the most about in-person school? When we return in-person, what is the first thing you look forward to doing in your classroom?

I work really hard to build a cohesive classroom environment where every student feels safe and valued. I love to see how students stretch themselves in their learning because they feel supported by each other. It is hard to create that same environment in Zoom. My favorite days at school are at the end of the marking period when I change the seating arrangement. Before students move to their new seats, I have them give everyone at their table, where they have sat for a month or so, an affirmation with details about what they appreciate about each person at the table. I love walking around listening to students compliment each other. Then I have the students move to their new seat and play a game with their new table group so that they get to know each other. By the end of the year, the students feel like they are friends with everyone in the class. I can’t wait to listen to a classroom full of students giving affirmations to each other and then playing a game.


Getting to know…Karen Arcangelo!



By Sonali Dev, parent class of 2023

Please share a few words about your background, experience in the education field, field of expertise.

I’m originally from Pennsylvania. My husband and I moved to California in 2007.  I’ve been a teacher for nearly 20 years. I was an ESL teacher for seven years. I taught English in Italy for two years and then moved back to the United States and taught ESL in New Jersey, New York, and California. After moving to California and teaching ESL, I decided that I wanted to get my secondary teaching credential. This is my 13th year as a public school English teacher. 

What are some of your hobbies and things you like to do on weekends?

My hobbies include: reading, exercising, painting, and traveling. My weekends are pretty quiet. Usually I spend time organizing my house, going shopping, and (when it’s not a pandemic) my husband and I usually go out for dinner.  

What are your thoughts about how you are handling the new model of online schooling, and its effect on teaching languages like English?

At first, it was very hard for me to get used to teaching this way. I’m a very energetic teacher in person and I was worried that it would be stifled in this environment. The most challenging aspect of remote learning is that I sometimes feel that I can’t give all my students the help and attention they need. Little by little it’s gotten more manageable and it helps that the students are willing to try new things with me. 

Do you have any tips for students to excel in the new online schooling model?

I would say that communication is more important now than ever because we, the teachers, cannot really see everything going on in our virtual classrooms. I think most teachers are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure the success of their students, but we need our students to communicate with us to let us know what they need or what isn’t working for them. I would also tell students to step away from the screen whenever possible. Find activities that don’t involve screen time because we’re already spending so much time in front of our computers. 

What are your thoughts on teaching in the MSEL program?

This is my first year as a teacher in the MSEL program and I am so happy. My students are enthusiastic learners and are so kind to me and to each other. Everyday I’m impressed with the freshmen!


Climate Change Action Plan Student Presentations

by Olivia Brewster (Class of 2024)

My name is Olivia Brewster and I am a freshman at the Marin School of Environmental Leadership. In our freshman year, every student works on a group LEAD project, which is a semester-long project that focuses on a specific environmental topic. In my case, my LEAD group is working to spread the word about wildfires and wildfire preparedness. Wildfires are a huge effect of climate change, and also a contributor as a key component to a dangerous positive feedback loop. As the planet continues to warm, there are dryer and longer summers. This means there are more wildfires, especially here in California. As wildfires burn large forests, toxic chemicals and other greenhouse gasses are emitted into the atmosphere. These chemicals contribute to the greenhouse effect, which in turn, contributes to global warming. By learning to prevent and prepare for wildfires, more people, and the environment, can stay safe. Our project is very relevant and important to the daily life of every Californian. The San Rafael CCAP (Climate Change Action Plan) asked MSEL if they had any relevant groups that would like to present at the meeting. 

Before the meeting, they asked us to prepare a two minute presentation about our LEAD project. At this point, we had just finished writing our LEAD papers, and we were beginning to plan our project, so we decided to talk a little bit about our research and our goals for the future. I personally was assigned the task of talking about our goals for the future. 

Once we got on the Zoom (Covid-19 strikes again, these meetings are normally in person), the Vice Mayor, Kate Colin, asked everyone to introduce themselves in the chat. After that, tons of people from various organizations and committees gave updates and presentations. All of these presentations were super interesting, because they talked about different plans to combat or prepare for the effects of climate change. My personal favorite was one presentation about building dams and levees around the canal district. I thought it was super cool how they tackled projects like these, and how they took all aspects of the project into consideration. 

A few presentations later, it was MSEL’s turn. At this meeting, there were two MarinSEL groups, mine and a sophomore group. Thankfully, the sophomores went first, and us freshlings had the opportunity to see how it would play out. The sophomores introduced themselves, talked about their project, then the rest of the attendees asked questions. Once the sophomores had answered all of the questions, it was our time to shine. First, Collette Treewater introduced us, then Emelia Frost talked about our research papers and our progress so far. After that, it was my turn to talk about our goals for the future. 

First and foremost, I talked about the message we are trying to send in our LEAD Project. I talked about how important it is to be prepared for wildfires, and the simple steps somebody can take to prepare. My group calls these steps the 4 Ps of Preparedness: Plan, Pack, Practice, and Prevent. I elaborated a bit on each P, then went into how we were going to share this information. Our main plan is to hold presentations for schools and groups, then send out virtual flyers and pamphlets to anybody who can’t attend our Zoom calls. We are also planning on making a social media account, where we will post short videos, challenges, flyers, etc., all relating to wildfire preparedness. 

After I presented, the Vice Mayor encouraged everybody else to ask difficult questions, and try to stump us. Apparently, in all of the years that MarinSEL students have presented at the CCAP, the Vice Mayor hasn’t been able to stump a single group. The first question that we were asked was, “What is your response to people who say that they are ‘too busy’ or ‘don’t have enough time’?”. Thankfully, this is a question that my group had anticipated, and had a solid answer too. So, when nobody talked for a hot second, I spoke up and answered the question with a quote, “If you don’t have time to do it right, you won’t have time to do it over”. This answer got a collective chuckle, and the Vice Mayor said that she was very impressed. After we answered a few more questions, people began to give us offers and invitations. One specifically from Rachel Kertz, who is running for SR City Council, and works with the Mont Marin/ San Rafael Park Neighborhood Assoc. She said that she would love to help/work with us! By the end of the meeting, we were all very exhausted, but pleased with our work.


Climate Change Action Plan Student Presentations

by Catherine Fahrner (Class of 2023)

This year, I am in the Downtown Climate Reduction LEAD group. We are working with the city of San Rafael to reduce the amount of CO2 that we are releasing into our atmosphere. A critical piece of our journey to becoming net zero energy by 2050 is the Dining Under the Lights program. For those of you who have not attended, it is a way for restaurants to get more community engagement while also staying COVID friendly. On Thursdays and Fridays from 5-9 pm, Fourth Street is blocked off and tables are set out on the road to provide a socially distanced dining area. Although it is beneficial to people because it is a way to still dine out during the pandemic, it is also a climate-friendly action that the city is taking to get cars off the road. Sadly, due to colder/rainy weather, the set date to end is November 20, although our LEAD group is hoping to either find ways to extend that date or to restart the program after the rainy season. 

A few weeks ago, our LEAD group, as well as a freshman LEAD group, had an amazing opportunity to present our projects to the CCAP, or the Climate Change Action Plan Committee. While on Zoom, we were able to discuss our project scope and meet a lot of people that can help us achieve our project goals. Not only were we able to get our voices out there, but we also got numerous resources from people on the call. We are thrilled that we had this opportunity to reach out to many important members of our community and have our voices heard. We are very excited to work with CCAP again in the future.


Teacher Updates on Virtual Learning

The MarinSEL teachers have been very hard at work providing engaging material for rigorous virtual project-based learning. Here are a few examples of the activities and projects that MarinSEL teachers have been providing for students. 

Karen Acangelo

Recently, students worked hard to write and perform their own poems in a virtual poetry competition! There was a 5 way tie and an extremely exciting tie-breaking recitation of the poems. Students wrote about the environment in a way that showed their deep connection to natural spaces.

Please follow this link to read some of the students’ poems!


Ray McClintock

9th – Seminar: Students are well into their LEAD projects where they have had to adjust to going forward with the project virtually. They have completed individual research papers on topics, finalized their project proposals as a group, and are now in the working phase of their virtual projects. Several groups have already had high-level Zoom meetings and presentations, including the CCAP for the City of San Rafael.

Geography: Students have been getting a lot of practice on online presenting with various projects in both large and small groups. Students have just completed a virtual water debate project where they advocated for great water allocations for either Municipal, Agriculture, or Environmental sectors. We’ll be moving into their Energy unit next. 

10th – Seminar: The same as 9th grade, but all are working towards creating environmental policy that governments, businesses, schools, or institutions can adopt. The equitable park access group has been working hard on community engagement strategies adapted to the SIP world, with the goal of producing a nature-based curriculum for underprivliged students at a local elementary school to follow on asynchronous family visits to a Marin County Park, in partnership with Marin County Parks.  

World History: Students have covered a wide swath of history from Ancient Greece and Rome to now finishing the Industrial Revolution unit. Students made videos of them giving a speech to I.R. era citizens warning about the dangerous start of climate change, which allowed them to highlight a key environmental issue in history. Lastly, students just finished a virtual Socratic Debate project where they gathered research to defend their argument of the overarching questions “Was the Industrial Revolution Worth It?”. Students are moving into a mini unit covering Nationalism/Imperialism, before moving into WWI.

12th – Seniors are well underway with their senior internships at various businesses and organizations around Marin. Despite limits on physical presence, employers and students have developed scopes that continue to give students access to real job skills and experience. Students are in the middle of completing college applications, where they have received remote structured assistance from Ann Anderson and Lory Krone, and are well-prepared to be accepted into some of the finest universities there are.


Sara Frack

As a final project for the ecology unit, the students were placed into six teams to research a local issue. One issue is the removal of invasive mice on the Farallon Islands and the other issue is the management of the Tule Elk at Point Reyes National Seashore. The groups were:

Background information on the mice at the Farallon Islands

The perspective of the National Park Service, which favors removing the mice with Brodifacoum

The perspective of some environmental groups who want to remove the mice, but not with Brodifacoum

Background informations on the Tule Elk in California and at Point Reyes National Seashore

The perspective of the ranchers at the seashore, who want fewer free-roaming elk

The perspective of environmental groups who want more space for the elk to roam

After the presentations, the students voted on what they thought was the best approach for dealing with the mice and the elk, then they wrote two CER paragraphs describing their opinion on each topic with evidence backing up their opinion.


The Energy Challenge 

by Ben Bronstein, Climate Corps Fellow: Energy and Environmental Associate 

For the past four weeks, high school students across California have engaged in weekly energy conservation challenges and creative campaigning through The Energy Challenge. A statewide effort by SEI’s Energize Schools program, the challenge aims to reduce energy use and expand energy education. Students earn prizes by participating in weekly challenges, which interactively teach them to explore their carbon footprints, consider their daily reliance on energy, create energy conservation plans, and explore ways to lead their communities to conserve energy. Whether schools are in-person, fully remote, or somewhere in the middle, students can engage in all weekly challenges. Students who complete all challenges will earn an Energy Specialist Certificate from SEI that demonstrates their expertise in energy conservation and efficiency. 

Energy Challenge participants spend the first two weeks of the Challenge learning about their personal carbon footprints and the everyday energy-consuming activities that make them up. The third weekly challenge, “Energy Conservationist,” tasks students to think about ways to conserve energy and make their homes more energy efficient. Students then create energy conservation plans, in which they consider ways to reduce energy used by the appliances and lighting, heating and cooling systems in their homes. Students are also prompted to identify possible challenges to their conservation ideas as well as solutions to those challenges. Students can then implement their plans, encourage family members to help out, and maybe even track their energy use reductions through their energy bills. 

The tenth grade Energy Conservation LEAD group is leading these efforts this fall, representing Terra Linda and MarinSEL. For these students, The Energy Challenge represents the beginning of a yearlong energy conservation journey. As the students develop a project proposal to create a more energy efficient and conscious campus, the weekly challenges are helping them to build a strong foundational knowledge of energy that will help them maximize their impact. 

As October came to an end, students wrapped up the fourth and final weekly challenge, an interactive assignment that guides students to become energy conservation leaders in their communities. This project was a perfect culmination to The Energy Challenge for the Energy Conservation LEAD group, who is ready to take action at school and in their community. 

MarinSEL students are now brainstorming creative ways to launch a virtual energy conservation campaign. Over the next couple of weeks, students will connect with peers, teachers, staff, and the broader community on ways they can reduce their personal energy use. And over the course of the year, students will continue to build upon their energy knowledge and expand their influence. 

As are most things, The Energy Challenge experience is very different this year. However, during this period of isolation and mostly remote learning, hundreds of students have built a sense of community through their joint efforts to conserve energy.


Student Blogs 

by Lucy Knopf (Class of 2021)

As everyone knows, this year’s senior internships look very different than how they have been in the past. It is one thing to adjust to managing a business/organization during a pandemic, and it is another thing to make those same adjustments with the addition of a few high school interns that also require managing. With that recognition, and I’m not sure if the supervisors are going to read these blog posts, but I would like to say thank you for continuing to put in the time and effort that allow for us to succeed and be of use in our internships. 

When it comes to my personal internship, I am in a group with three other interns. Because of this, our internship is likely a little different than our other classmates’ internships, as we are working together as a team to complete tasks and work on projects. We are currently working on a project called the Canal Arts Initiative, in which we are working on developing and designing a series of art installments in one of the most diverse communities of Marin County, with a 78.9% Hispanic population, 13.1% White population, 5.1% Asian population, and 2% African American population. Right now, this community is disproportinately suffering from COVID-19 with over half of Marin County’s COVID cases located in the Canal. This is largely because the highly concentrated population lacks access to resources and protection, all due to the racial injustices that are prevalent in Marin County. This is also due to the fact that the majority of the residents are essential workers and have no choice but to expose themselves and their families simply to stay afloat. 

The people that make up the Canal are one of the reasons Marin County is considered a great place to live, however, they rarely get the credit for it. These mothers and fathers run small businesses that communities rely on, they work in the grocery stores which has undoubtedly become one of the most difficult jobs in the past many months, as well as many other jobs that have been deemed undesirable–yet are essential. The Canal is often neglected by the City of San Rafael and Marin County in general. This community deserves the recognition and celebration of its various cultures. 

We plan to highlight local artists that are from or have a connection to the Canal Area, and work alongside them to produce art that is representative of their community and its people, placing the installments on and around areas of significance to the people of the Canal, as it is their home. It is with this project that I have felt excited in a way that I haven’t felt in the past. I feel as though this project is so valuable, while also exciting and creative. With this excitement has come my yearning for its quick completion, which is unrealistic for a project of its nature, as coordinating with the County of Marin officials and completing the entire design, development, and production of such a project takes many months and is not something to be rushed. 

Through the progress that we have made so far, I have learned to have more patience and precision, and to recognize where time is necessary and important to the success and completion of the task. I have learned to move slowly and intentionally through each essential step, putting real effort and care into the individual pieces of the vast puzzle that is the Canal Arts Initiative. With this developing skill, I am beginning to be more thoughtful with my work while continuing to feel excited and motivated. I believe that this is a skill that will prove itself to be very valuable in the future, not to say that I will use it effortlessly in every instance, as I am still learning and will continue to indefinitely. 


by Anna Foehr (Class of 2022)

So far, creating my locally sourced soap business “Bee Clean” has been a powerful and educational experience. I have already learned so much and I feel better prepared to enter the business world. Primarily, I came up with this business idea after a couple of failed attempts at other business ideas. I knew I wanted to go down the path of beeswax products and work to make my product as locally sourced and sustainable as possible. Initially I wanted to create a stress revealing beeswax candle business. However after discussing the idea with Cyane, I realized it lacked the environmental aspect. After a few more ideas in that general area, I landed on my “Bee Clean” brand. This idea was very feasible due to the fact that I had pre-existing relationships with beekeepers/farmers in the bee business. I knew that I would be able to get the supplies I needed and make sure it was locally sourced. I also knew that I had personal experience with making soap, and seed paper which would be my zero waste alternative to packaging. 

In order to determine if there was interest in the idea, I evaluated the current state of our world and the need for soap. In addition to that I took notice of the current political climate and the peaked interest in buying local/supporting the environment. To determine my target market, I researched the general group of people who would purchase soap for their households. At that point I was able to narrow it down to environmentally conscious mothers who were between the ages of 30-70. 

I determined that my idea was financially feasible by carefully pricing out the materials I would need, the fees I would need to pay and how I would price my item. I did this with the help of general research, public feedback, polls, and reaching out to other existing organizations in a similar business. I knew that in order to compete with other soap companies, I needed something that they didn’t have. On top of being zero waste, locally sourced, environmentally conscious and bee friendly I still needed more in order to compete. For my business I figured out that if I was able to have strong communication with my consumer regarding exactly what scents, shapes, sizes and even logos they wanted I could have a leg up on the other companies. 

Another important aspect I had to consider was SWOT. Also known as my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This was very important information for me to have so that I could predict potential problems and brainstorm solutions. I was able to find out what my weaknesses and threats were by basic research and public input. However, I worked off of that and made my strengths and opportunities clear as well. 

Although “Bee Clean” is still very much in the works, and I have a lot more work to do, I think I am on the right track. By staying true to myself and my value/mission statement I know that I will produce products that are of high quality. In addition, with the help and support of my teachers, peers and family I know that I have a strong group of people who will push me to do my best.


by Annie Sung (Class of 2024)

Because MSEL is an environment focused school, all of my classes revolve around this green and blue planet and the issues we must fix. In Seminar, we work with our LEAD groups to provide solutions for global issues such as recycling, gardening, air quality, microbeads, and wildfires. In groups of five to six people, we work every zero period seminar class to gather our research and create our project proposals. Working on our LEAD projects helps us better establish relationships with our fellow classmates and creates connections that we have never had before, such as the LEAD community partners and government officials. 

In English, we study and write poetry. A couple of our poems were about the environment and as we completed our “Poetry Slam” (friendly poetry competition with MSEL judges), I got to hear many opinions about our climate and how the Earth is changing. It was very heartwarming to hear that even in English, everyone wrote poems about how we loved the environment and how we can work forward to fix it. 

In Biology, we are learning about climate change and global warming. We were able to learn from Al Gore’s Climate Reality Training presentation and got to hear more information about greenhouse gases, heat waves, changes in the polar jet stream, sea level rise, permafrost melt, wildfires, droughts, and extreme weather. Through MSEL Biology, we get to hear the most accurate information and the truth to climate change. 

In World Geography, we are currently studying water, and are proposing ways to help save and clean water in the U.S. This project really helps us have a better understanding of California’s water crisis and the proposed ideas and plants out in the world. With the four MSEL classes I have, I learn so much more detailed and in depth knowledge about climate change from my teachers and get to hear so many more concrete and intriguing opinions from my classmates.


by Olivia Brewster (Class of 2024) 

My name is Olivia Brewster, I am a freshman at the Marin School of Environmental Leadership. In all of my MarinSEL classes, teachers are giving us tests or projects that are supposed to summarize what we have learned so far. 

In Seminar, we don’t have a specific midterm test or project, instead we are currently working on our project proposals for our LEAD Projects. This means, as a group, creating a thorough plan for our project, and creating a slides presentation with all of the information clearly displayed. I am in the Wildfire Preparedness group, and so far our project has been quite enjoyable. We have already written our LEAD Papers, and as a group we have presented our project to the San Rafael CCAP (Climate Change Action Plan). The purpose of CCAP meetings is to hear about what various groups and committees are doing to combat and prepare for climate change. At the meeting there were about 50 people, including the Vice Mayor of San Rafael. My group attended the meeting to present our project and get some advice. We were given about two minutes to explain what we have done with our project and what we are going to do in the future. After we gave our presentation, people on the Zoom call (including the Vice Mayor) asked questions about our project. I would say that the call was successful and informative. These meetings are quarterly, so we won’t see them until 2021! 

In my english class, we are going to have a test on poetry. For the past week or so, we have been learning about different poetic tools, while analyzing and reading poems. We have read Walt Whitman, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, and so many more. We have also written original poems then presented them in a Poetry Slam, where a winner is going to be chosen (we had a five way tie for first place, the tie breaker is next week!). 

In my biology class, my teacher has decided to do a project that we have yet to find out about. Recently in class, we have been learning about photosynthesis and cellular respiration, and we are beginning to look more into climate change. Before this class I knew the basics of photosynthesis, but this year I have learned a lot more. It can be very difficult to understand these types of things in a virtual environment, because normally we would be doing lots of labs. Thankfully, my teacher understands how difficult it is, and is always willing to answer questions and review anything. I also ask my classmates for help, because they are often just as confused as I am, so we are able to help each other out. 

In my geography class, we are working on the Body of Water Pamphlet. Every student chose a body of water to research and make a pamphlet about. The pamphlets should be like the types of pamphlets that you would find in an airport or travel agency. They should give the reader a general understanding of the body of water, without overloading them with information. For my pamphlet, I decided to write about Puget Sound. I went to Seattle, Washington a couple of summers ago, and was very interested in the intricate waterways surrounding the city. After my research, I found out more on the history of the Puget Sound Region, and how global warming/sea level rise will affect the sound. Unfortunately, if we don’t do something about climate change in the next few years/decades, the Sound will flood and precious ecosystems will be lost. 

The nice thing about this program is that we do projects rather than intense papers or tests. My teacher was even saying that he would rather assign us this pamphlet, instead of assigning us a dull paper to write. In general, this school year has so far been fun and interesting, even with the remote environment.


Student Poems 

by Tess Waddy (Class of 2024)

Ice Frozen, Hearts Melted 

They say that ice is treacherous, That it’s cold as death, Alive without breath, Waiting to take those Who disrespect it or dare to suspect it Of anything other than what it is; Heartless

There are stories of those who have fallen To and through Sheets of ice Of blindingly white Merciless and insistent Their mere existence devoid Of any warmth

They say ice melt Is beneficial For who would want Such an unforgiving landscape To remain When in its place Could come obtainable riches

Glaciers? They say Who needs them anyway When they have taken so much And give so little

But what they do not tell you is the shimmering blue Revealed when ice turns over In its restless sleep Breaking the deep Deafening silence

They do not mention That each snowflake is unique An intricate pattern That will never return

Fleeting, alive for an instant individual as a human fingerprint And as precious as it’s owner 

They forget As ice does not That memories lie deep In frozen sleep Hidden between layers of ice and snow Stories of ages long ago Irreplaceable Yet easily Erasable

Today, everyday, Human kind Betrays and ravages the earth That nurtured us Blind to it’s pain Intertwined and trapped in a desperate dance That lured us Towards destruction:

Because of us The majestic ice Of planet earth Is melting Like a ball set rolling There is no controlling Its speed as it melts Erasing history Grandeur and mystery Spires and turrets Reduced to angry torrents Of rushing tears

One day A Towering wave Will be all that remains Of majestic cathedrals Arching bridges Towers and needles That live only in pictures Of a forgotten age

Because what they don’t tell you Is power of ice To balance the planet And protect us From raging fires From harmful rays That would damage Our fragile existence

Ice is a Firefighter, Even as it fears heat Resilient Even as it melts And yet We are hanging it Over a lighted fire A captive Unable to escape Bound by conditions

It cannot protect us if we do not provide the same protection in return

California is burning East Africa is yearning For any drop of water And the ice sheets are melting, Unable to prevent Anything As in danger as we are

I hope That the fires that burn Because we didn’t turn And face what we’ve done Will be sufficiently hot to melt the cold hearts Enough to feel the heat under the arctic’s feet

I hope that someone Watching from the crowd Will wake up Stand up throw water on the fire

After which The crowd will rise as one Untie the bonds Releasing ice Sparing the poles From further pain

I hope for a day Where I can say That we all came together as one To save the ice

From destruction

From us

For us


by Collette Treewater (Class of 2024)

The Fight of Our Lives

Humans, a seeming to be biotic figure that has done nothing but bad

They say don’t be greedy but that seems to be a hypocritical statement

Humans have ruined what we are given and give nothing back

The waterfalls drying up not releasing the water of hope that is recycled through like magic

The ground don’t change but it does when underneath there is everything in the world that could hurt us

We sweep it under the carpet like it’s a dust bunny on a busy day

But we are talking about our earth here

I say listen to the creature’s yelping, crying, dying for help

Needing what we can no longer give because we are too far gone

I stand for what I stand on and will fight for what I die on

We can’t give our world a ventilator or life support but currently this is what we need to do

Our world is on its deathbed we must treat it like we do to all these other living things including ourselves

Respecting your mother wishing we could have done more, but we can do more

Somehow a matter of environmental emergency has become a political debate for some rich people to bicker about like two babies fighting over the last cookie in the cookie jar but that cookie represents our entire political system of power

We as people need to stop fighting with each other because we are wasting energy

Becoming a united whole that will go into battle with our heads held high

Coming out with our feet drowning in the sea water we have melted, neglected, infected, and no longer respected

It will engulf us sooner or later but we will sink into it jaws first still bickering about whose shoes look more stylish, whose tie is more tight, and who got the most likes on the picture they posted that morning but we will be oblivious as we always have been and always will be

This is no laughing matter so stop laughing and start doing stop talking and start fighting

And stop crying because our earth is dying 


by Olivia Brewster (Class of 2024)

The Rain, The Snow, The Trees, The Boulders, The Fire

I can’t. I can’t take it anymore. I can’t. 

I can’t take the pressure of the world.

Every time we take a step up the mountain, a boulder tries to push up back down.

Or maybe a tree falls in front of us.

Maybe an avalanche buries us in snow.

Maybe a fire scorches our trail, and obliterates our footsteps. 

Maybe rain blinds us, and we can’t see the top anymore. 

But we are still fighting, we are still trekking through the snow.

We jumped over the tree, we pushed the boulder to the side.

The rain washed away the fire. 

We kept on walking through the rain. 

I can’t take it anymore.

The rain, the snow, the trees, the boulders, the fire.  

I can’t. 

The summit is our goal. That’s it, the summit. There are still obstacles on the other side, but the summit is our goal. 

This mountain we’re climbing, its name is Climate Change.

It’s in the mountain range called Mother Earth. Mother Earth has lots of mountains, but Climate Change is the biggest and the worst, there is also the best view from the top. 

This trail we’re on, is one of our own creation. It twists and turns, sometimes it’s steep, sometimes it’s a gentle slope, sometimes it drops off onto a cliff. 

We keep climbing and I can’t take it anymore. 

Everyday we seem closer to the top, and every night the top seems to disappear in the distance. 

The rain, the snow, the trees, the boulders, the fire.

I carry my team, they carry me. We bear the weight of the world on our backs. 

We carry everything. 

Our past, our present, our future.

We can’t put anything down, we can’t lighten the load. 

I can’t take it anymore. 

I can’t take the burden of the world

I can’t keep hiking up this mountain

I can’t handle the rain, the snow, the trees, the boulders, the fire. 

But I can. I can. I can. I can. We can.

Every time we take a step up this mountain, a boulder tries to push us back down, but we dodge it, and laugh as it tumbles down the mountain side. 

Or maybe a tree falls in front of us, and we have a place to sit down and take a break.

Maybe there is a little snow to cool us down.

Maybe a fire warms us and gives us light, even when the sun dips beneath the horizon, there is still a soft glow, that illuminates Mother Earth

Maybe it rains, and washes away all of our fears, and sorrows. Maybe it rains, and we splash in puddles and swim in lakes.  

We keep on walking in the rain. 

I can, we can. 

The rain, the snow, the trees, the boulders, the fire.

We can.

This mountain we’re climbing, its name is Climate Change. People have ventured up here before, left us some signs, maybe a campsite, possibly recommended a shady spot to take a break. But nobody has gone to the summit.

That’s our goal, the summit. 

Climate Change is in a mountain range called Mother Earth. Mother Earth has mountains, and volcanoes, and lakes, and rivers. Mother Earth has dangerous cliffs, and beautiful hillsides. 

This trail we’re on, it’s one of our own creation. There are no rules, no boundaries, just one goal. The summit. 

Some days the trail is pretty generic. Simple problems, simple solutions. Not much water, find a spring. Too hot, find some shade. 

Other days, the trail is a monster, just waiting to find new ways to torture us. But that’s okay, because sometimes we need to hurt a little. 

We just need to get to the summit of Climate Change, in this mountain range called Mother Earth. 

I can. We can.

The rain, the snow, the trees, the boulders, the fire.

We can. 

I know we can do it.

We can fix it, we can solve it, we can find the answer and save the world. 

From our own mistakes. 

I believe in us.

I believe in us. 

We can stop the carbon emissions, we can stop the plastic production, we can stop deforestation.

We can produce less litter, we can eat less meat, we can cut down less trees, we can 

We can, we can, we can.

We have all the dominoes. They are ready to be lined up.

Some of them already are.

They are the ones who don’t use as much plastic, they are the ones who turn off their lights when they leave the room, they are the ones who walk to work. They are the ones who are already lined up.

But we need more dominoes. There are gaping holes in this line, and if one doesn’t reach the next, then the rest can’t fall down. 

We have all the dominoes. They are ready to be lined up. 

We have the space for the dominoes, we have all the dominoes.

 I know we can do it. 

Just get in line.



Admissions Reminder

Apply to MarinSEL now! 

MarinSEL strives to provide students with an exemplary college preparatory experience combining rigorous project-based learning in the context of solving real-world problems related to the environment. MarinSEL students will develop what have been identified as critical competencies for the 21st century including critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration for future success in college, careers, and life. If students are interested in exploring their relationship with the natural world, growing as a young advocate, and creating change within this community, we invite them to learn more about MarinSEL.


Apply now until January 16th, 2021. Upon applying, choose a date to join a mandatory Exploration Day which gives prospective students a chance to explore and demonstrate their interest in the MarinSEL program through a variety of group activities, as well as a writing assignment and an oral interview.

For a deeper dive into more information and the Admissions Timeline using this link.

Fill out the MarinSEL Application here

If you have any questions, please email

We look forward to seeing your applications!