BRISTOL –- Greene-Hills K-8 School has been awarded a $700 environmental education grant from the Captain Planet Foundation, to be used for the school’s Gator Recycling program.
According to the program description, the grant will provide recycling barrels at various business and other strategic locations in the school’s Forestville neighborhood, with messages encouraging residents or store customers to recycle their beverage containers.
Greene-Hills families will be given recyclable bags to collect their beverage containers and bring them to the school. Families will also be asked to collect trash in their neighborhoods and keep a record of the type and quantity of the trash they have collected. Students will analyze the data appropriate to grade-level abilities.
Middle school level students and their families will work on a spring clean-up of the area adjacent to the Pequabuck River and also record data on the trash collected there.
Gator Recycling started with an idea by handful of fourth-grade students to collect bottles for recycling and has grown to encompass concepts in math, physical education and community service, according to Principal Scott Gaudet.
Students Ava LaRosa, Christian Soriano, Brittany Markavich, Davyan Burke, Kayla Lazar, Raven Musumano came to Gaudet months ago wanting to start a bottle collection program both to encourage recycling and to raise money for the school, he explained.
The students promoted the program, originally known as Nickels for Knowledge, by making morning announcements about it to the school.
“We just started with collecting water bottles, that’s about all we have in school anyway, and we would store the empty bottles in one of our storage rooms. After three to four weeks they would go with a couple of our staff members over to Stop & Shop and cash them in,” Gaudet said.
So far the students have raised about $250, he noted.
The students wanted the money to go for a fund to buy new equipment for the school’s fitness room. The current equipment, which came from the old Memorial Boulevard School when it was closed down, is getting old, Gaudet said.
It consists of treadmills and elliptical machines, which are only used by the older students, he said. “The equipment we’re looking to get would be all hydraulic, no free weights, so it would be something students from kindergarten to grade eight would be able to use.”
The physical education teachers feel this equipment can reinforce a healthy lifestyle, he said. “Their hope is to get students to see from a very early age that working out with gym equipment is something you can do as a kindergartener and continue beyond your high school and college years, long after you’ve outgrown doing kickball in PE.”
In addition, when the weather keeps students inside there may be up to three PE classes in the gym at one time, which is a tight fit, he said. “So we really wanted to be able to utilize that fitness room better and more.”
With the help of Jeanine Audette, who helps with grant writing for the schools in addition to coordinating the district’s mentor and School to Business Partnership programs, Gaudet applied for the Captain Planet grant.
Gaudet said Audette also talked to the Gator Recycling kids about how if they encourage their fellow students to each collect 200 recyclable bottles and cans during the next school year, one nickel at a time it would add up to some $10,000 to $15,000 for the new fitness equipment.
“She started to do the math with the kids,” he said. “If they drink one case of water over a week, that’s 24 bottles. In four weeks you’ve got almost 100 right there. And it doesn’t have to be just you, it could be your grandma and grandpa and others too.”
With the grant money, Gaudet said the program can expand to get more students involved in running it and have adult groups helping out, like the Greene-Hills Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students) volunteer group, the Forestville Village Association, the Pequabuck Watershed Association, and local businesses.
“We want to do at least one outdoor collection on a Saturday here at the school, where anyone who has recyclables can bring them,” he said. “The students are so excited and proud that this idea that they come up with is continuing to grow, and is now going out into the community.”
“We are so impressed with the project brought to us by Greene-Hills,” said Leesa Carter, executive director of the Atlanta-based foundation. “We are honored to play a part in funding its implementation and wish Greene-Hills great success on this important project. It is our hope that our combined efforts to educate, empower, involve, and invest in today’s youth will cultivate a better tomorrow for everyone.”
Based on the 1990s animated series “Captain Planet and the Planeteers,” the Captain Planet Foundation was co-founded in 1991 by media mogul Ted Turner and producer Barbara Pyle.
The foundation has funded over 2,000 hands-on environmental education projects with schools and nonprofits that serve children in all 50 U.S. states and in 23 countries internationally. More than 1.2 million children have directly participated in and benefited from these educational projects.
For more information, visit www.captainplanetfoundation.org .
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.