Shangraw’s Guide to Saving the World
2023, Senior, Art
Climate Hero: Randy Shangraw, Potomac Falls High School
Driving to school one day, I stopped at a red light, looked over, and saw my environmental science teacher riding his bike to school. A quick nod was the result of this uncomfortable eye contact, and we went on our way. Later on he would tell us about how he rode to school everyday, ate little to no meat, brought reusable cups to restaurants, and was even planning on moving to a net-zero carbon community. I started to think about what I could do. He taught us about the horrors of the meat industry and the impact it has on our planet. I went vegetarian. Our unit on greenhouse gasses and carbon emissions had me using public transportation and looking for cleaner energy sources. Most importantly, he taught us that the smallest action has the biggest impact. In my piece, I pictured him in his classroom. He’s surrounded by the things he loves and adores and the things important to him - a bicycle in the background, baby chicks on the floor from when we hatched some earlier this year, his environmental rules of thumb, the globe on his desk (of which I stared at every class), the trees outside his window, the reusable water bottle, a laptop with a Harvard sticker, and a hummingbird. "Be like the hummingbird” were his last words to the class. There was a story that he told us on the first day of school about a hummingbird. A wildfire overtook a forest, and a small hummingbird was taking one drop of water over at a time to extinguish it. The other animals looked at the hummingbird and asked, “Why are you doing this? It isn’t going to put the fire out.” The hummingbird replied, “I am doing my best.” And that is all that matters. I feel as if art helps me become this hummingbird. I want this piece to not only inspire, but also to question. If a high school teacher is able to have such a big impact on a large group of students, who's to say that any other individual cannot do their part. I want this piece to show others that they, too, can be like the hummingbird and that a small act can create ripples that turn into waves.