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Chelsea Clinton applauds El Dorado High for Desert Trash-to-Art Project

Chelsea Clinton was welcomed by hundreds of students and the Mariachi Azteca band at El Dorado High School during her visit on Thursday.

Clinton visited the school and addressed two separate groups of students at the school as a grand prize in the Get Going Day project contest. The first group Clinton addressed comprised of more than 300 students, teachers and area partners that will be actively involved in the project.

The project, submitted by Art Teacher Candace Printz, is a collective movement by students at El Dorado High school and El Paso area partners and organizations to clean up a section of the Chihuahuan Desert and transform the trash into artwork.

Chelsea Clinton 018Artwork made from the trash would then be part of a traveling exhibit in El Paso and Juarez. An estimated $30,000 is needed to fund the project.

“One of the biggest impediments and barriers is an imagination gap, it’s often really hard for us to see how we might the changes that we want to make to imagine it and clearly you have already imagined it,” Clinton said to the students at El Dorado regarding their project.

“One of the things that really impressed me about your project was you were already closing imagination gap.”

The contest, sponsored by Barnes and Noble Bookstores, invited students in grades pre-kindergarten through the 12th grade to submit ideas that would improve their local communities. Contest winners would receive a visit from Chelsea Clinton.

Students and teachers could submit their ideas from Oct. 19, 2015 through Jan. 29, 2016 according to the Barnes and Noble website.

The project by the El Dorado High School students has five phases. Juniors Claudia Holton, Melanie Marentes; and seniors Laura Rivera, Alberto Santos, Jazmin Olivas and Evan Valdez-Gibson explained each phase to the audience, which comprised of the following:

 Phase 1: Adopt a portion of the Chihuahuan desert and clean it up.

 Phase 2: Wash, sort and count all the trash. Data will be collected so students can inform the community about how much trash and the types of trash are found in the desert and the harm it’s effect on the environment.

 Phase 3: Creation of the artwork from the trash.

 Phase 4: Local artists and environment services will provide the students with resources to help them understand the impact the trash has on animals, soil and plants in the desert. Local artists will teach the students how to transform the trash into fully functional art.

 Phase 5: The artwork becomes part of a traveling exhibit in El Paso and Juarez.

In order for the project to be successful the students need volunteers from the school, the community, supplies and donations. Partners in this project include the Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition, the Humane Society of El Paso, the Make-a-Wish Foundation and several others businesses and organizations.

Clinton added that she was impressed in the student’s foresight to work with area partners. She encouraged the students to keep moving forward with their idea.

“I’m a big believer that the worst thing anyone will say is ‘no,’” Clinton said. “And you don’t know what they are going to say if you don’t ask. So I hope you will ask and ask and ask whether it’s for clothes, or gloves, or storage space or food, water or sunscreen.”

After Clinton shared words of congratulations and encouragement to the students, she took three questions from the audience. The questions ranged from her views on feminism, gender equality and events in her life that inspired her to work toward change.

Clinton spoke of the influence her grandmother had on her and the importance of education.

“When she was 13 she had to start working to support herself and she was a nanny in someone else’s home,” Clinton said. “And she was so proud of the fact that even though she had to work, she had employers that could provide a roof over her head and encouraged her to get educated.”

The importance of education was imprinted on her by her grandmother, Clinton said, but it wasn’t until she was 15 when she went with her mother to India, that she fully understood it’s impact.

“There are millions of kids that aren’t in school because there aren’t schools for them to go to, there are not teachers to teach them and there are no resources for them to use,” Clinton said.

After speaking to the first group, Clinton was escorted to the El Dorado gymnasium where she informed freshmen and sophomores about the Get Going Day Project and provided examples of other students across the country whose projects were featured on her website www.itsyourworld.com

Printz said she was inspired to enter the contest when she saw a yellow flyer featuring Clinton’s book, “It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired and Get Going.”

Then over spring break she received the email stating that she had won the grand prize, she thought it was a joke. “I thought someone that knew I had entered the contest somehow got into my email,” Printz said.

Printz then got in touch with Clinton’s representatives and asked if Clinton was in fact going to visit the school. “I wanted to make sure that the real Chelsea Clinton is coming, that it wasn’t a look a like or not someone that has the same name as her, and they said, ‘No, it’s really her.”

Clinton’s visit officially launched the beginning of the student’s environmental project. Recruitment of volunteers for the project will begin in July.

A safety meeting and the collection of trash will take place in August, September and October. Workshops are scheduled for November and December and the creation of the artwork is scheduled for January through March. The first exhibit is expected to be open in April.

Printz said they need venues to showcase the exhibit in El Paso, Las Cruces and Juarez.

Clinton added that she will promote the ongoing project on her website in the hopes that it will continue to inspire other students and children to act as well.

Donations Needed – Source Socorro Independent School District.

 Donations of water and food for volunteer cleaning team.

 Monetary donations and sponsorships from local organizations and businesses.

 Sunscreen for the volunteers collecting the trash in the desert.

 Art supplies- mat boards, glue, string/ yarn, scissors, beads, paper, tape, paint, brushes, charcoal, etc.

 Building materials- wood, glass, power tools, saws, pliers, wire cutters, wire, tile, fencing, nails etc.

 Safety items- trash bags, gloves, masks, soap, scrubbers, storage containers, first aid kits, etc.

 Pedestals for the display of any sculptures.

 Vinyl letters for the wall for the exhibits.

 Printing of any or all the informational brochures, invitations, labels, Banners, and labels for the exhibits.

 Framing services for the completed art.

 A storage facility to house the collected useable material.

 Catering for our exhibit receptions.

 Exhibition spaces in El Paso, Las Cruces, New Mexico, & Juarez, Mexico.

For more information about how you can help with this project, you can contact Ms. Printz at 731-6271 or e-mail her at cprint@sisd.net

For more information on Clinton’s book or It’s Your World Project visit www.itsyourworld.com

About Alexandra Hinojosa

“Once journalism is in your system, it’s hard to get it out… and then you realize, it’s there to stay.” – Alex Hinojosa is a full time instructor at El Paso Community College and a former El Paso Times journalist. FULL BIO

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