Student waste watchers honored for service to the environment
May 1, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
Students from Newcastle and Hazelwood elementary schools are doing big things to help reduce waste on the planet, and they were honored for their efforts at the city’s 2013 Earth Day celebration.
All of the hours spent rifling through trash cans, collecting juice pouches and teaching others about recycling and composting paid off when the students received Earth Day Hero Awards.
More than 50 students from both schools gathered on the stage at Lake Boren Park to receive their certificates, distributed by Newcastle’s Mandy Schendel, 2012 Miss Washington and a Hazelwood alumna herself.
“All of these kids do a great service for the environment, so it’s our pleasure to acknowledge their earth-friendly efforts,” said Grace Stiller, the Newcastle Earth Day chairwoman.
At Hazelwood Elementary, a team of students collects thousands of juice pouches at lunches to close the recycling gap and encourage reuse of items. The school also has a community garden, coordinated by teacher Kate Ingalls, which encourages sustainability and environmental education.
At Newcastle Elementary, a group of about 100 students known as the Waste Watchers dedicate their time to sorting through trash cans to properly recycle and compost items. They also teach their peers about the merits of correctly disposing of waste.
“They volunteer their time, giving up their recess or social time to work in the lunch room,” said Kathy Keegan, a teacher at Newcastle Elementary School. “It’s kind of dirty and stinky, but it really empowers them.”
It was a special moment for many of the students, who beamed with pride as they received their certificates and shook Miss Washington’s hand.
Keegan, who works and lives in the Newcastle community, said it was important for the city to honor the efforts of its environmentally minded kids.
“It is super exciting,” she said. “It’s a big honor for the students. It’s not a glamorous job, but it’s a big deal for them to make a difference in our school and our community.”