“We really prioritize taking actions rather than just [having] meetings, it’s more towards going on field trips and helping the environment - we’re actually putting solid action into it.” - Nina Rogers, Laguna Beach High School Student, PR and Social Media Representative of the FLOW Club
The FLOW (fire, land, ocean, water) Program on campus was created by English teachers Sarah Benson and Dave Brobeck. Benson wanted to create a more tangible, hands-on subdivision of the program, so the creation of the club began with funding from the Schoolpower, a local non-profit organization that helps raise money for the Laguna Beach schools. Teachers or other faculty are encouraged to write in a funding request for an event, program, club, or anything that will gain great interest from the students while staying educational.
The school’s principal, Dr. Altman, opened up a TOSA or Teacher On Special Assignment. These positions are for writing projects across the curriculum, intended for an experienced teacher who steps outside the classroom to take on a specialized role. Both Benson and Brobeck applied and fortunately got both open positions. There weren’t any parameters or a given guideline for them to follow when creating the new program. Normally, TOSA’s are given to college level courses and curriculums, so Benson had to find a way to scale their program down to a high school level.
“This is a new idea, new program, a philosophy of having more authentic, more applicable learning rather than just ‘read these random novels with no action points.” said Sarah Benson.
Thanks to Director Benson and her now partner Jun Shen, the school’s Video Production and Advanced Exploratory research teacher, the FLOW Club has started to blossom. Benson continued, “We felt LB [Laguna Beach] is very unique and that we have a green belt and a blue belt, environmentalism and conservation are big topics in our community.”
There are local non-profit organizations and foundations in the Orange County/Laguna area they have the possibility of partnering with. With the school walking distance from the beach and sea life, the students and faculty have a constant reminder of why keeping our earth healthy is so important - they have the ability to see first hand the negative changes that occur.
“It's difficult always seeing negative news about climate change in the news, so it's comforting knowing that our students can do their part. We also get to learn about the larger-scale solutions to environmental problems by going to protests and city council meetings.” - Isabela Reichel, Laguna Beach High School Student and FLOW Club Vice President.
“It’s made for everyone on campus and it made sense for us to go in that [environmental] direction and thought [it] was the best way to marry the humanities and the sciences.” - Sarah Benson
“I joined FLOW Club last year because I liked how the teachers had been working on integrating environmentalism into the school curriculum, which was a project they had been planning for years. I also think that our club leaders plan enriching volunteering activities that go beyond the typical beach clean-up or trash pickup.” - Isabela Reichel
The FLOW Club provides tangible services and hands-on action to crucial environmental and human issues. Benson wanted to educate the students on said issues but bring a sense of community and assistance as well, rather than just sitting around a table and talking about the issues that can be solved.
It is considered an action service club that has between 20-30 members, meeting every other Monday. When the club was first created, they started off with completing local, in town services (which they still do), but the club has branched outside of Laguna Beach. Last year  Schoolpower funded a Senior Service Day where the senior class packaged and mailed out 76,000 meals to those hungry in Ecuador.
“I believe this program is helping the younger generation by exemplifying how students from our own high school can actually go and make a difference. I think it will inspire younger people to assume the position of difference-makers in which they fight to save our environment.” - Nina Rogers
The club had a wonderful opportunity to visit the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, and organize interactive kits for the children in the local hospitals–giving them an opportunity to learn about the ocean, its wildlife and how fragile our ecosystem is. The Pacific Marine Mammal Center, located in Laguna Beach is a rescue and rehabilitation center for injured and ill fallen marine life–research, education and collaboration are their fundamental notions.
Another wonderful experience the club participated in was a gardening day at The Ranch in Laguna Beach, where they learned about restorative no-waste farming. The Ranch restaurant and resort uses composting that goes directly into its thriving garden, which then supplies produce back to its restaurant.
Benson stated that she wants this program and club to continue growing, with the amount of people they help and issues they cover. The necessity is to keep the students educated on the ever changing societal issues, but also give them a voice in participating.
The Senior Service Day in 2021 was a hit for the class, and now every class–Freshman, Sophomore and Junior–want a service day of their own. It’s also a club that connects the dots for all their students with actionable items. For instance, the senior quad was poorly designed and constructed, so the school is having the senior geometry class design and create a new quad. And, those who would like to help build said quad, can volunteer their time to do so.
The FLOW Program and Club housed in Laguna Beach High School is teaching the younger generation the importance of taking action. By bringing together all four classes, the students are given opportunities to come together as school and community, to pitch new helpful ideas and allow each person a voice in decision making and the creative process. This is allowing students to harness their skills - whether in activism, mathematics, philanthropy, design or even public speaking and execute foundational projects that may open the path to greater opportunities.
“I am a firm believer in actions being far louder than words, and FLOW club embodies that. We prioritize making a difference from the local to the national level in all aspects of the environment.” - Nina Rogers
If you are a student at Laguna Beach High School or any surrounding schools, get involved in any form of activism - whether it’s joining a club or program, volunteering at local organizations, going to community events or educating yourself on a subject.
Speaking about the environment and the growing issues will let them grow more prominent in our lives and people will become more inclined to take action - especially the younger generation.
Do not believe your voice is not heard or unimportant - if you have an interest or passion about something, don’t let skepticism halt you, let it guide you forward into being successful in the avenue you choose.