Chattanooga area students are doing their part to be environmentally friendly as three local schools were recognized for their recycling programs. Hixson Middle School in Hixson and East Side Elementary School in Chattanooga were rewarded for their environmental efforts, and each won $1,000 through the Good Sports Always RecycleTM (GSAR) program for having one of the top 10 school recycling programs in the state of Tennessee. Additionally, Ivy Academy in Soddy Daisy was recognized as the Good Sports Always Recycle Sustainability Steward, and the school received $1,500 for its efforts.
Pamela Bowen and Marina Knott from Hixson Middle, Holly Slater and Drew Daugherty from Ivy Academy and Leanne Chesney and Arleen Summers from East Side Elementary were recognized during an on-field presentation at the University of Tennessee versus South Carolina football game.
East Side Elementary School began its recycling program last year and since then, its city recycling container stays overflowing with recycled materials. East Side collects and recycles daily and has plans to place additional recycling containers on campus. East Side also incorporates its recycling program into the curriculum to teach students about the importance of being environmental stewards. As a result of this effort, students have since recognized recycling containers around the city, downtown and at local grocery stores, and have mentioned placing items in those containers.
“We are honored to receive this award and appreciative of the funds that will provide means to continue encouraging the recycling efforts at East Side. We hope that our plans to continue improving the recycling program will have a positive impact on our students and community,” said Principal Stephanie Hinton.
The students at Hixson Middle began a recycling program in 2011 and the recycling initiative is now a school wide effort. Students collect recyclable materials from teachers every Friday and sort materials before taking them to the community recycling center. Hixson Middle also has a drop off location in the library for the recycling of cell phones, GPS devices, I Pods, DVDs, PDAs, Inkjet cartridges, laser cartridges, video games and consoles, digital cameras, laptops, I Pads, tablets, and I Pad readers.
“For the last three years, Hixson Middle School’s Comprehensive Development Class has been promoting, collecting, and turning in recycling for our school. This year, our student’s have started using recyclable material that has been collected by making compost bins, bird houses, slap bracelets, and more. The Good Sports Always Recycle award will afford us the opportunity to promote recycling school-wide by placing more recyclable containers in classrooms and throughout the building. Hixson Middle School is proud of Mrs. Bowen and her student’s efforts to make our school a better place for our environment,” said Principal Leangela Rogers.
Ivy Academy’s academic program integrates sustainability and outdoor education into each class and credit the students earn. Students spend half of their class time outdoors, nourishing a practice that leads to a firsthand understanding of the importance of protecting the environment. Ivy Academy utilizes its Common Core and Service Learning curriculum to host energy, waste, water and site surveys. In addition, Ivy Academy also has a Waste Reduction team and a Garden Club, run by students. Students maintain an on-campus garden, and participate in a daily gardening class where they take part in soil preparation, seed germination, planting, weeding, watering, organic pest control, and sustainable harvesting. In addition to reducing waste by eliminating fossil fuel use for food travel, Ivy’s Garden Club also reuses materials as much as possible.
"Ivy Academy is truly a place where students, staff and community work together to make the world a better place. We take very seriously our responsibility to be good environmental stewards and are thrilled to be a part of the Good Sports Recycle team,” said Principal Angie Markum.
Ivy Academy is one of 490 schools partnering with the USFS and Smithsonian Institution’s Global Tree Banding Project in a worldwide effort to monitor how trees respond to climate. For this project, Ivy Academy students are tracking local tree growth and providing updates to the project. Students also partner with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to monitor water quality in a nearby creek, collecting data and comparing these figures to numbers collected over 50 years by the TVA. This partnership educates students about watershed ecology, and careers in the sustainability fields.
Additional partnerships have allowed students to work with Park Rangers to monitor the spread of woolly adelgid--a plight to the native hemlock tree--in the local forest. Students have started a website to raise money to buy beetles to fight the adelgid, and learned to administer a soil drench method that is used to protect infected hemlock trees. Ivy Academy students are also required to participate in at least one year Service Learning courses, which focus on environmental projects that can be passed on to the community in community partnerships.
The GSAR school challenge, currently in its 20th year, judges Tennessee K-12 schools on how their recycling program encourages faculty, staff and students to recycle, as well as the unique approach and overall investment applied to environmental efforts. In addition, one school is recognized with the Sustainability Steward award, which is given to a school that approaches sustainability by reducing their overall waste footprint through energy and water conservation, recycling programs and the use of green space.
“As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the program, we look to the next generation to help lead the movement toward a sustainable future,” Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau said. “These schools have implemented exceptional environmental programs and serve as role models for all communities.”
The GSAR school challenge judges Tennessee’s K-12 schools on how their environmental program encourages faculty, staff and students to recycle, as well as the unique approach and overall investment applied to their overall environmental efforts. The Sustainability Steward award is given to a school that approaches sustainability by reducing their overall waste footprint through energy and water conservation, recycling programs and the use of green space.
“Each year we see entries from schools across the state that are doing amazing things in their schools and communities to help their environment,” said Anne Kilgore, Director of Global Sustainability for Eastman Chemical Company. “We want to congratulate everyone who was nominated this year, and while everyone can’t win, schools that are teaching students about environmental stewardship are doing a service that is vital to our future, and we applaud your hard work.”
Ms. Kilgore said that she hopes the friendly competition among Tennessee’s K-12 schools will encourage other schools to start or ramp up their environmental programs. The school challenge has recognized more than 200 Tennessee schools and provided more than $110,000 for their recycling, environmental and sustainability efforts.
This year’s Good Sports Always RecycleTM school challenge winners included: White Station High School, Memphis; New Hope Christian Academy, Memphis; Montgomery Bell Academy, Nashville; David Lipscomb Elementary School, Nashville; Three Oaks Middle School, Dyersburg; Hixson Middle School, Chattanooga; East Side Elementary School, Chattanooga; Willow Brook Elementary School, Oak Ridge; Franklin County High School, Winchester; and Portland High School, Portland. Additionally, Ivy Academy from Soddy Daisy took home the Good Sports Always RecycleTM Sustainability Steward Award.
“Not only does the GSAR program reach out to our state’s schools, it has spent the past two decades improving recycling efforts at one of the state’s most popular venues—Neyland Stadium,” said Ron Bonacci, Food City vice president of marketing. “Today we can be proud that we have one of the largest and most successful programs in the nation.”
Along with the school challenge, the stadium recycling portion of the program includes more than 1,000 recycling containers which are placed in and around Neyland Stadium and the other sports complexes at the University of Tennessee. During the 2012 football season UT recycled, composted, and donated more than 67 tons, resulting in a 36 percent diversion rate from the landfill. In 2013, the goal is to reach a 50 percent diversion rate, with hopes of reaching zero waste.
“Reducing waste at large events is a tough job to tackle, and the GSAR program has done a tremendous job over the last 20 years,” said Steve Lafollette, East Tennessee division vice president for Waste Connections. “We are proud to be part of this program, and we know as we look toward the future, the GSAR program will continue to evolve and encourage our schools’ efforts, as well as serve as a national example of a stadium-based recycling program.”
The Good Sports Always RecycleTM program is sponsored by Eastman Chemical Company, Food City and Waste Connections, in conjunction with the University of Tennessee.