Club looks to make impact, educate others on climate action

Katya Sri Kondragunta founds Action for Climate Emergency organization


Myla Ray

While standing by her group’s informational stand, senior Isabelle Hughes, vice president of the Action for Climate Emergency (ACE) club, talks about the impact of climate change on herself and others. The club members, including Hughes, said they like being a part of a larger effort that goes beyond just the walls of PHS. “(I have) a lot of personal experience with pollution,” Hughes said. “I’m an athlete, so running and breathing air affects my ability to perform.”

Within the walls of Prosper high school, the ACE club has come together to make a difference – on the outside. 

“My club stands for Action for Climate Emergency,” founder and sophomore Katya Sri Kondragunta said. “My club empowers young people to raise awareness on climate emergencies.”

Kondragunta and other members of the ACE action team, a branch of the national ACE organization, meet on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month at 4:15 p.m. in room 1114. The club, sponsored by Spanish II-III teacher Florencia Sanders, works toward climate awareness.

“The program is a national program,” Sanders said. “It’s just people that are fighting the environmental agenda.”

Sanders became the club’s adviser after hearing Sri Kondragunta talk about her proposed agenda for the school year. 

“First of all, they asked me – and I felt very honored, because it’s a very good club in the sense where it talks about real problems, like the environment, and I’m passionate about the environment,” Sanders said. “I’ve been wanting just simple things like a recycling program in the school, because we as teachers throw so many papers away, and they just go to the landfill versus being recycled, so I was interested in what she had to offer.”

Senior Isabelle Hughes gave the club a chance after hearing about it through a friend in cross-country. After attending the meeting, Hughes stayed for good.

“I already had a passion for the environment and animals, and I wanted to (help) stop climate change,” Hughes said. “So I stayed with the club, and was elected vice president.”

Sri Kondragunta started the club after hearing about the climate crisis from an unlikely source.

“We had a substitute over – he was subbing for the class, but he also spent half the class talking about climate change,” Sri Kondragunta said. “He was a scientist too. So the entire class he was talking about taking climate action, and he was talking about Greta Thunberg and about all the amazing stuff she did. So, that kind of inspired me to start taking climate action too.”

Sri Kondragunta said she has the club working toward constant environmental wellness.

“She realized that we needed that here in Prosper High School because there was already an environmental club here at the high school,” Sanders said. “They weren’t doing much, so I think Katya was like, ‘Well, we need an actual proactive group that’s making change and pushing Earth’s agenda.’ ”

My club empowers young people to raise awareness on climate emergencies.

— Katya Sri Kondragunta, sophomore and ACE club founder

Hughes said club members are directly working with the community to help with climate issues.

“It actually started with (discussing) recycling (programs) at the beginning of the year,” Hughes said. “We spoke at town hall, and we were actually successful.”

After receiving approvals, the recycling program plan will begin with the next school year. For now, the club pushes for other changes.

“We’re trying to get higher (up) officials to start pushing (for) more green energy,” Sri Kondragunta said. “(We want) more sustainable ways that we can move our society in.”

The club members, including Hughes, said they like being a part of a larger effort that goes beyond just the walls of PHS.

“The Action for Climate Emergency is nationwide,” Hughes said. “And, our club is only one of many who are fighting for climate change.”