“I’m just continually impressed with how amazing these teachers are and how much they inspire their students to do such great things,” Henshaw said. “The students get really fired up. They get the parents fired up and the parents get the community fired up. So it’s just an ongoing thing that has been so positive to our community and to environmental education in this county. So I’m very pleased.
“I think the important part about it is instilling a habit in them. It’s like anything else, you need to make things available to them and then you need to teach them how to utilize them properly and what the value of them actually is for them and for their community. It’s how they can do something simple to help, and once they’re able to do that at an early age and make that a habit and we can continue to do that as they grow, then it’s just like a natural reflex as they get older. It’s not like a muscle you have to work. It’s just something they will automatically do. So it’s great. It just makes it easier all the way around.”
During the challenge, which spanned from August 2013 to March 31, more than 20 participants — including Excel Christian Academy, schools from the Bartow County and Cartersville school systems, and the Bartow County Central Office — collected 470,810 pounds, or 235.4 tons, of items, including paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, and plastic and glass containers.
The final tally shows Euharlee Elementary School being the top collector and capturing the contest’s elementary division with 76,640 pounds of recyclable materials, which with 622 students comes to 123.2 pounds per youth. For its efforts, Euharlee Elementary will be treated to a Wildlife Wonders show.
In the middle/high school division, Cass Middle School came in first with 42,460 pounds of materials or 43.3 pounds per student. Along with receiving a $500 prize for the KBB School Recycling Contest, Cass Middle’s recycling achievements also were rewarded earlier in the year, being named Georgia’s winner of Keep America Beautiful’s Recycle-Bowl.
Some of the other schools that were recognized and received cash prizes were private school category winner, Excel Christian Academy with 10,620 pounds; and awards of merit for those exhibiting notable improvement — White Elementary, 22,640 pounds, Allatoona Elementary, 12,140 pounds, Cloverleaf Elementary, 20,030 pounds, and Cass High School, 30,640 pounds.
“As a whole, we were so excited to see the results,” said Pat Boyter, advisor for Euharlee Elementary’s third- through fifth-grade student council, which coordinates the school’s recycling program. “Any little bit that we can do for the environment is so exciting to myself and to the student council that helps to collect all the recycling every week. It’s awesome, the impact that we have ... every year and to see such incredible numbers. I’m very proud of my student council kids and Euharlee as a community as a whole.
“I think [the students are] definitely developing awesome recycling habits. Students here can start participating in pre-K. I’ve noticed that they’re taking their habits to their homes. They’re recycling at home and getting their parents involved in recycling and then it comes into the classroom as well. If something gets in the trash, they make a big fuss about, ‘Oh, that can be recycled.’ So the habits are definitely crossing over from the home to the school environment.”
According to the Keep Bartow Beautiful’s contest report, participants collected the following amounts during the 2013-2014 school year: Adairsville Elementary, 33,460 pounds; Adairsville High, 12,740 pounds; Adairsville Middle, 20,680 pounds; Allatoona Elementary, 12,140 pounds; Bartow County College and Career Academy, 1,760 pounds; Cartersville Elementary, 12,440 pounds; Cartersville High, 11,580 pounds; Cartersville Middle, 15,720 pounds; Cartersville Primary, 14,940 pounds; Cass High, 30,640 pounds; Cass Middle, 42,460 pounds; Clear Creek Elementary, 11,000 pounds; Cloverleaf Elementary, 20,030 pounds; Emerson Elementary, 4,460 pounds; Euharlee Elementary, 76,640 pounds; Excel Christian Academy, 10,620 pounds; Hamilton Crossing Elementary, 11,160 pounds; Kingston Elementary, 5,640 pounds; Mission Road Elementary, 32,200 pounds; Pine Log Elementary, 6,240 pounds; South Central Middle, 16,820 pounds; Taylorsville Elementary, 3,920 pounds; White Elementary, 22,640 pounds; Woodland High, 14,040 pounds; Woodland Middle, 21,700 pounds; and Bartow Board of Education, 4,860 pounds.
Since the contest’s inception in 2005, more than 2,000 tons of recyclable materials have been collected.
“Bartow County Solid Waste has a container at each school,” Henshaw said. “They have containers for me inside the classrooms from Keep Bartow Beautiful that are labeled for their use. Then [the schools] take those [to] the outside container. Bartow County Solid Waste takes them to the central recycling center across from the landfill and those are then stored and baled and stacked and processed.
“Then they’re sold to market. They go out to various places as they’re bid on. It’s just like a commodities market. We sell as we have a tractor-trailer load to the highest bidder. All that money goes back into the county’s general fund and that’s the same as any fee that the county collects. It all goes back into the general fund to be used to help offset any other expenses that the county runs into.”