On May 5th, 2012 Arlington Heights Academy students Julia Love, Janae McClair, and Sanoma Capps competed in and won the Caring for Our Watersheds contest that was held at the Cincinnati Zoo. The Caring for Our Watersheds program asked students to submit a proposal in January that answered the question, "What can you do to improve your watershed?" Students were asked to research their local watershed, identify an environmental concern and come up with a realistic solution to that problem.
The Arlington Heights team remembered a day when they were caught in the rain as they walked to conduct water testing at Mill Creek as part of their Biology class. To get out of the rain the entire class huddled under the Mill St./I-75 Bridge to stay as dry as possible. It was then that the class noticed water gushing through a drain on the bottom of I-75 and running directly into the storm drain at the corner of Mill St. and Blanche Ave. and flowing directly into Mill Creek. Julia, Sanoma, and Janae immediately remembered this situation and created a proposal to install a rain garden to filter the polluted run-off from the highway before it enters Mill Creek. According to Arlington Heights sophomore, Julia Love “We just knew something had to be done to filter that highway run-off to help the plants and animals in Mill Creek!”
Approximately fifty proposals were submitted to the contest and reviewed by a panel of local environmental experts. From the original fifty entries the top ten finalists were invited to present their ideas for a panel of judges. The Arlington team was informed that they were one of the top ten finalists and invited to present in the final competition on May 5th, 2012. Janae, Sanoma, and Julia set out to prepare a verbal presentation of their proposal. The other top ten finalists were from Loveland, Sycamore, McNicholas, and Harrison schools. So, the Arlington team new that they must produce a quality presentation in order to compete with these bigger schools.
On Saturday, May 5th, 2012 all of the top ten teams convened at the Cincinnati Zoo Education Center to present their project proposals. All of the teams presented their ideas to a new panel of judges. The day started at 9:30 AM with the introductions and presentations. There was a break for the audience and presenters during which the judges tabulated final scores. The judges, participants, and quests were then treated to a nice lunch. Finally, the winners were announced starting with the tenth placing team. The Arlington team became increasingly excited as the places ticked by and they were still in the competition. When the second place team was announced and the Arlington team realized they were the overall winners of the contest, the ladies were filled with excitement and pride. As the winning team the ladies received $1000.00 for their team to personally split, Arlington Heights Academy received $1000.00 to utilize at the school level, and $1000.00 was awarded to the team to use to implement their project. During their acceptance speech Sanoma Capps said “I would like to thank all of you for being here and voting for our project and I would especially like to thank our teacher Ms. Stacea McKeever for being with us every step of the way.” This was truly an excellent day for the Arlington Heights team and a very proud day for the entire Lockland School District.