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Highland Park School Wins $110K In National Educational Contest

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Highland Park high school is $110,000 richer after two students beat 1,600 other schools to win a national educational contest.

Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow challenge asked schools across the country to show how science or math can help the environment in their community.

Franklin High School students Arnold Giedraitis and Grace Punzalan produced a video to showcase how to reduce the urban runoff contaminating the Los Angeles River.

“It gave the image of what the environment is actually all about,” said Punzalan.

The video won the contest’s Community Choice Award after it earned more than 75,000 online votes.

Students and faculty beamed with pride because the cash prize will benefit everyone.

“There’s a lot that has to be improved in our school,” said Punzalan. “We should have more computers for all the students.”

“Sometimes I feel like…is this just a dream? Wake me up!” said environmental science teacher Jomel Villamel. “This is an honor that I share with the school and the entire community. We won because of the popular vote.”

Ernesto Alvarado, the high school’s technical coordinator, said the money couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Probably 90 percent of our equipment here is out of warranty. So that prize is gonna be a lot of good news for the kids,” he said.

In April, Giedraitis and Punzalan will attend a special awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

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