Seniors reflect on Lexus Eco Challenge

Savanna Gharibian

(June 8, 2012) — Clark celebrated a victory last April as five students won the final stage of the Lexus Eco Challenge. These students consisted of Clark graduates Tania Khanlari and Brian Higgins and current seniors Yeprem Chavdarian, Edward Kazaryan and Steve Kechichian. The team participated in three challenges: land/water, air/climate, as well as a final challenge. In the land/water challenge, the students researched current threats to waterways and oceans. In that challenge as well as the others, the team members came up with an action plan, and they each were assigned different responsibilities. The team members used the Geographic Information System (GIS), a cartography program which generates maps in order to map out data. Clark had not won a Lexus Eco Challenge for a while; however, all that changed last year. Kazaryan and his team not only won but also achieved something more for Clark by being the first team to win all three challenges. Having won all three challenges, the team won a total of $50,000. Each Eco Saver took home $4,000 and Marine Biology teacher Dominique Evans-Bye received $3,000. Clark Magnet also received an extra $20,000 from Lexus, the project’s sponsor. The $20,000 was to be utilized by the Marine Biology class. Having participated in the challenge as juniors, Chavdarian, Kazaryan and Kechichian continued to participate in the project as seniors. Chavdarian said the project has benefited him in a number of ways. “The project helped me with time management, communication and teamwork skills,” Chavdarian said. His experience with the GIS program has allowed him to qualify for a scholarship from the USG Spatial Intelligence Agency. Chavdarian is currently waiting for a reply from the agency. Chavdarian was motivated to take the class again because it is beneficial for him. “I joined in again this year because I just wanted more experience working with the software,” Chavdarian saud. “I’m thinking of turning this into a career—not necessarily a job—but more like a career path.” There is also potential of winning more scholarships. Being part of the Lexus Eco Challenge has also been beneficial for Steven Kechichian. Kechichian took home $6,800 that he is now saving for college—University of La Verne being his choice. Besides the money, Kechichian said he has also gained a lot of knowledge from the experience. “It was a good experience, and achieving what we did was the greatest part,” Kechichian said. It is Clark’s Marine Biology class that has given Kechichian and the other students the opportunity to participate in the Lexus Eco Challenge. “I don’t think I would have had the chance to take a part in something like this because other schools probably don’t have the classes that give us opportunities to take part in activities like this,” Kechichian said. For Edward Kazaryan, last year’s Lexus Eco Challenge was not a first. Kazaryan participated in the 2009-2010 challenge when he first joined Marine Biology as a sophomore. During his sophomore year, he learned more about the software and decided to join the class again. Kazaryan enjoyed last year’s experience and said that his favorite part was going on the field trips. He also enjoyed his $7,000 in prize money. He used half of the money to purchase a computer and saved the other half for whenever he needs it. “My computer was ancient—it ran on dust,” said Kazaryan. “So I made a nice computer for myself.” Kazaryan joined the class again this year because of his interest in science. “I love science—a lot,” said Kazaryan. He figured that after being successful last year, he would try again this year. However, the team has only won certificates this year. The Eco Challenge has been useful for Kazaryan, as he based his senior project on the program. “It’s been a beneficial senior project, and a piece of cake for me,” Kazaryan said.