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High school seniors Ricardo Herrera and Mayerling Lantigua, along with their environmental and climate science teacher, Dr. Jared Fox — all from WHEELS, a NYC Outward Bound School — were part of the group that pressed the button to release the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square on Dec. 31, 2019.

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Though pressing the button — which officially kicks off the New Year’s countdown — is typically reserved for celebrities, in recent years, the honor has been given to social activists. Fox’s work to build a clean-air corridor in Washington Heights with his students recently earned him a Sloan Award for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics, presented by the Fund for the City of New York. The WHEELS contingent was joined by two other students and a fellow Sloan Award winner, Aida Rosenbaum, from Bronx Latin School to highlight the climate crisis as 2020 begins.

Ricardo, Mayerling & their classmate Diane Arevalo followed up their New Year’s Eve appearance with an OpEd on how they plan to address climate change, beginning with revitalizing Highbridge Park in Washington Heights. Read the students’ OpEd, which appeared in Harlem World Magazine.

Watch the NY1 Interview:

Watch Dr. Fox’s 8 o’clock Countdown Interview:

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