Local middle schools are going green

  • Posted: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Sunday, September 6, 2009 12:07 a.m.

By Taylor Downs
For The Salisbury Post
Like the American public, middle school students around the county are becoming more and more conscious of the environment. Middle schools are going green.
Students and staff members from China Grove, Erwin, Knox, North, Southeast, West and Corriher-Lipe middle schools have started or are starting recycling clubs and teams to get kids more involved in saving the environment.
"This year, China Grove and Southeast have worked really hard to increase the participation and level of recycling," says Lori Swaim, recycling coordinator for Rowan County.
Students who participate in recycling groups at school have many different jobs they must attend to each day, ranging from building bird feeders to scouring the campus for trash.
The Green Team from China Grove "love putting on their rubber gloves and picking up everything, from gum wrappers to cigarette butts," said China Grove advisor, James Wohlgemuth. The custodians there, he added, are only throwing away waste paper from the restrooms.
Clara Bradley and Christina Lloyd are seventh-graders at China Grove Middle School who are members of the school's Green Team.
Twice a week in the mornings, during enhancement time, the girls empty buckets of white and colored paper on the seventh-grade hall. They also take newspapers and empty drink cans and bottles from the teachers' lounge to the cafeteria.
The cafeteria has large recycling containers for bottles and cans. It also has buckets for leftover water and drinks.
The cafeteria staff pours the drinks down the drain.
"We use the leftover water to water flowers around the school," Clara says.
"All of the grades are involved in some way," says advisor Becky Morris.
Each grade is responsible for recycling on their hallways. Each classroom has a bucket for white and mixed paper.
Clara wanted to get involved because her older sister recycles at her school.
"I really love my earth and I love my animals," Christina says. "I have a little bit of asthma and I have bad allergies, too. I want to clear the air so I can breathe better."
Taylor McKnight, another seventh-grader, also empties paper in the mornings.
She said she thought being on the Green Team would be fun and also a way to help save the earth.
The Green Team collects cans, pull-tabs and plastic bottles, as well as paper. Within the first month after starting their club the school collected more than 2 tons of various recyclables. So far this year , China Grove has collected:
- 2,699 pounds of office paper
- 1,460 pounds of mixed paper
- 845 pounds of newspapers
- 7,325 pounds of cardboard
- 1072 pounds of steel
- 312 pounds of plastic
China Grove principal James Davis says he feels really good that the school is recycling, literally "tons and tons" of materials.
Even from the beginning of the school year until now, says Elizabeth Cook, Erwin's recycling club advisor, there has been an enormous increase in recycling alone, not to mention other efforts made by the students. At Erwin they started with recycling about three bins every month. That has increased to six bins every week.
Students at Corriher-Lipe in the Junior Beta Club are recycling but at the same time helping others by collecting cans and sending the proceeds to Relay for Life.
Erwin's club calls themselves "The Recycos."
Their motto? "We're crazy about recycling."
At Southeast, not only are they recycling, they are reusing the recycled materials. Kay Brown's eighth-grade science class used old notebook paper, newspaper, colored chalk, mulch, grass, leaves, coffee grounds, used tea bags, Kleenex, paper towels and grass seed to make recycled paper. The North Middle School recycling club is organizing a fundraiser to collect recycled cans. Proceeds earned will be used to make the outdoor area more accessible for classes to use for instruction.
Knox Middle School has made recycling paper a top priority and is currently planning efforts to recycle more products.
West Middle School began a recycling club and had a strong turnout of 75 members. The club is trying to find a logo for the group to place on the recycling bins and is now in the process of ordering more bins.
Taylor Downs, a junior at Salisbury High School, is a Post intern.
Staff writer Susan Shinn contributed to this story.

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