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Elementary environmentalists

Third-grader forms ‘green’ club to get friends to patrol school campus for trash

Posted: September 14, 2009 9:41 p.m.
Updated: September 15, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Golden Oak Community School third-grader Molly Root puts wax milk cartons and Styrofoam trays in a bag after her classmates separated them from their trash after lunch on Wednesday.

 
Students at Golden Oak Community School in Canyon Country know the importance of saving the planet, one gum wrapper at a time.

The environmentally friendly elementary school opened last year with the intent to reduce, reuse and recycle.

But one student takes “going green” to a whole new level.

“It’s important to keep our earth clean,” said third-grade student Molly Root, 8. “I wanted to pick up trash and make it fun for my friends to do too.”

Molly formed The Environmental Club, a group of students determined to keep the school clean by patrolling the campus picking up trash.

Molly soon realized she wasn’t the only one with a passion for trash pick-up.

“I love doing it because I don’t really care about recess,” said student, Madeline Fayne, 7. “To me, it’s more fun to be with my friends and do something good for the environment.”

Fayne joined Molly’s club along with other friends who wanted to make playtime more meaningful.

Twin sisters, Macy and Hanna Brehmer, 8, know that it takes more than words to get a job done.

“It’s one thing to say you want to help, but you have to actually do something to make it happen,” Macy said.

“I’m remembering what I said I’d do and I’m sticking with it,” Hanna said. “We’re talking the talk and now, we’re walking the walk.”

In order to remind students to stay committed to the task at hand, Molly decided to make bracelets symbolizing the mission.

“My mom helped me make these bracelets, which we bought out of money we got from recycled bottles,” Molly said. “I started giving them out at school and had sign-ups for my club. I’m glad people joined.”

From recycling bins filled with plastic bottles and milk cartons, to classroom trash cans overflowing with recycled paper, the school has taken Molly’s vision to heart.

“I am so inspired by this one little girl,” said Golden Oak Principal Gayle Abril. “She showed me that one person really can make a difference and that is something we can all learn from. It really touched me.”

Abril was so inspired by Molly’s efforts that she initiated a school-wide effort to keep the campus environmentally friendly.

“We call ourselves ‘The Green Team’ because everything we do here is eco-conscious,” Abril said.

Each classroom on the kindergarten through sixth-grade campus is equipped with multiple trash cans separated into either trash or recyclables.

The school’s “green” mentality carries over into lunchtime, during which students have been taught to properly dispose of their lunch items.

Separate designated sections for milk cartons, bottles and cans are placed each day at the front of the multipurpose room, where students gather to eat.

Molly’s club knows that lunchtime is the right time to make sure that ever piece of trash is placed where it belongs.

“I make sure that if I see a bottle in the regular trash can that I take it out and put it in the recyclable area,” said club member Christopher Aguirre, 7. “We have to help the environment and make our world a better place to live.”

One member of the school is a big fan of the club.

“These kids are really helping out and it’s so good to see how much they care,” said Robbie Robinson, plant manager for the school.

Robinson attends to the trash on campus each day and appreciates the eco efforts that have separated the trash.

But caring for the environment is not limited to school grounds.

For those who wear the green bracelets marking the club’s name, an effort for earth comes home with them too.

“At home, I make sure that we don’t waste water or leave lights on when we’re not in a room,” Molly said. “Now my little sister does it too and she’s only five years old.”

The club members take their inspiration from Disney’s Friends for Change: Project Green, a pro-social “green” initiative that stresses environmental issues among young audiences.

The year-long campaign project started in the summer of 2009 with a series of public service announcements from well-known Disney personalities like Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers.

“On the show, I see how doing little things to help the planet makes a big difference,” Madeline said.

Molly knows that small actions lead to a world of change.

“We just have to stay committed,” Molly said. “We can’t clean up all the trash in just one day, but we can clean up trash everyday.”

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