Gabrielle “Gaby” Nicette Spangenberg is a senior at McGehee and will be graduating this May. Like every senior, Gaby hopes to have made an impact on her high school and peers; being an activist since an early age, she has done just that.
Spangenberg is the founder and president of the McGehee Green Society, a club that brainstorms ways to make their campus more environmentally friendly. During her junior year, the team raised money to buy custom Nalgene bottles and encouraged all of campus to use reusable water bottles instead of throwing away old water bottles. For Earth
Week, McGehee students were awarded if they walked, biked or took the streetcar to school. Her Green Society did more that just that, the club introduced meat-free Mondays in the cafeteria. Bathrooms now boast recycled toilet paper and napkins, and all the soap is now eco-friendly.
Spangenberg is also the current Editor-in-Chief of The Spectator, McGehee’s yearbook. The Spectator recently won the All Southern Award for the Who, What We? edition.
After Hurricane Katrina, Spangenberg realized how much she loved and cherished New Orleans. While on her evacuation, she attended a public where the atmosphere was nothing like McGehee. Spangenberg says, “I spent a lot of that year doing some type of community service; whether it was in City Park cleaning up debris or fallen branches or out in the wetlands replanting, I wanted to help. I also wanted to give back to my school, because McGehee pushed me to challenge myself and be independent, after all one of our school mottoes is ‘Today’s Girl’s, Today’s Leaders’.”
Spangenberg is not only involved in New Orleans but in other areas such as Costa Rica. Last year, a group of 12 students and two teachers went to Costa Rica to create drainage systems for those who had been recently flooded out.
Visiting Costa Rica was a culture shock to Spangenberg and the fellow McGehee students who were volunteering.
“After digging for hours in the sun we were so proud of what we created. I remember walking back from dinner one night in the village and something was blocking the flow of the water in the ditch,” says Spangenberg. “Instead of waiting until the next day to fix it, we jumped down, grabbed a shovel and started digging out the branches and rocks that had fallen in.”
With the end of senior year quickly approaching, Spangenberg has plans to spend college at her dream school in Sewanne, Tenn. Here, she wants to study environmental studies or biology and knows she will be moving back to New Orleans in just four short years.