The Council Rock Newtown Middle School Team with their grand prize banner.

Council Rock students win Philadelphia Zoo's UNLESS Contest Grand Prize

NEWTOWN >> Council Rock students from the Newtown Middle School were recently named grand prize winners of Philadelphia Zoo's UNLESS contest.

The Albert M. Greenfield UNLESS Contest creates awareness that inspires solutions and actions to impact the future of wildlife.

Over the past seven years, the zoo has engaged more than 10,000 children from more than 200 schools in the Delaware Valley region as part of this initiative. Together with these students, the zoo has worked to address major conservation issues affecting wildlife and inspiring action.

The focus of the Newtown Middle School team project was on the global plastic problem and the direct impact this issue has on climate change and the increasing numbers of endangered species in the wild.

After spending a month researching the environmental problem, the students learned that most people know about the 3 R's: reduce, reuse and recycle, but don't know about RETHINK and REFUSE.

The students decided to inform their community about the plastic problem and ways to create an impact with the "forgotten 2" -- rethink and refuse.

They held a plastic bag drive to collect shopping bags to "rethink" different ways they can be used and facilitated a week-long straw refusal activity in which more than 1,000 straws were NOT used.

On May 9, the NMS team traveled to The Philadelphia Zoo knowing they were finalists in the UNLESS contest, which saw over 200 schools compete and 300 total applications submitted.

During the awards ceremony, the NMS team excitedly learned that they won the Grand Prize when they were presented with awards, a personalized banner and a check for $1,250 for their school.

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