WILMINGTON, NC--(Marketwire - April 16, 2008) - A team of five students from the Lyceum Academy of New Hanover High School in Wilmington will be celebrating this Earth Day. Not only have they done their part to protect the planet, they've also emerged as one of only 14 first place teams throughout the country who have each won $50,000 in the Lexus Environmental Challenge, a national competition designed by Lexus and Scholastic to educate and empower teens to think big about possible solutions that could make a positive impact on the environment.

The school will receive a grant for $10,000, the teacher advisor will get a $5,000 grant, and the students will share $35,000 in scholarships. Throughout the seven-month-long environmental education program and contest, more than $1 million in grants and scholarships have been awarded.

"When we introduced this challenge, we really had no idea what kind of programs the students would dream up," said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager. "Well, now we know they're not afraid to dream big, and act on those dreams. We were amazed at all the teams' innovative ideas, their ingenuity and their pure passion for the topics they chose to address. It's exciting to see these young people discover their voices and learn they have the power to make a difference."

Conserving water by using low-flow toilets was the focus of this team of six students who worked to educate individuals about the severity of the drought and advise them about inexpensive and simple ways to conserve water. They worked to spread the message nationwide by hanging fliers in Lowe's stores across the country, with a site on Facebook, and with a blog. In addition, they contacted government officials to suggest that low-flow toilets be installed in government buildings. They also partnered with Sloan Toilet Company and Morehead-Cain Scholars across the nation to publicize their message.

The team's teacher advisor Gordon Massengill commented, "I am very proud of my students for winning this challenge. It has been a gift to find such a generous contest that not only enhanced my curriculum, but also inspired, challenged, empowered, and rewarded my students for their efforts. Thank you Scholastic and Lexus for making a difference!"

The final winners were selected from 55 teams that qualified for this Final Challenge by winning in one or more of the four previous Challenges that were held from September to February. These initial Challenges, addressing land, air, water and climate, asked teams to take a stand for the environment in their local community and winning teams in these categories each won $3,000. The Final Challenge required teams to reach beyond the local community and inspire environmental action around the world through innovative ideas that were communicated to a wide audience.

The Lexus Environmental Challenge will enter its second year in fall 2008. Teachers and students are encouraged to visit www.scholastic.com/lexus to view all the winning entries and to learn how they can take part in next year's program.

Contact Information: Media Contact: Sandra Levy (562) 391-1516