On our final school visit, Gabby Grunkemeyer and I headed to Freeport Middle School’s “Interact Club” meeting to hear about their NRCM grant project designing and implementing a school-wide recycling system. As we entered the school, we were greeted by teacher and club leader Lucy Lloyd and a lively group of middle schoolers eager to show us their progress. Prior to this project, Freeport Middle School had no formal recycling system in place, but as we soon learned, the Interact club students have taken this challenge and run with it, often dedicating outside hours to ensuring its success.
And what a success it was! As the students explained to us, they began their project by placing bins around the school, before beginning to educate all other students about what goes in the bins. Students rallied around the slogan, “Think About It!” and made huge posters (all with recyclable materials) to convey their message. They also traveled around lunchrooms and classes performing a “Think About It” skit. Clearly their efforts did the trick: Freeport students have gathered a tremendous amount of recyclable material—so much that their bins are at capacity and they are having to figure out what to do with it all! Diverting all these recyclables from the waste stream is an incredibly meaningful environmental effort, and it has put the infrastructure in place for years of recycling to come. Next year, Freeport Middle will even be running a “Green Club” to continue sustainability efforts at their school.
As we left Freeport, I was struck by how much these students had gotten done in a short and busy semester. This group of motivated and dedicated students have made real and tangible changes in their school, and it was incredible to see how their small club has acted as the spark for a whole new web of environmental efforts. To me, it is incredibly important to realize how much environmental work needs to be done, but also that students such as these hold the power and voice to make an impact. Congratulations to Freeport Interact Club for being change-makers!
To cap off a wonderful visit, everyone ate cake!
—Britta Clark, NRCM Communications Intern