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Fair Oaks student sparks eco-effort

Sixth-grader takes recycling passion to school

Posted: December 7, 2009 8:47 p.m.
Updated: December 8, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Kyle Anderson, left, and Tristin Kurtz, right, watch as Donovan Williams labels bags of recyclables by grade level.

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An effort for the environment met school spirit when Fair Oaks Ranch Community School organized its second Curbside Recycling event on Nov. 19.

That morning, the regular student drop-off line delivered more than students to classrooms.

Students and parents were encouraged to bring bags full of plastic bottles, crushed cans and other household recyclables in an effort to raise funds for various school activities and programs.

One student knows that school-wide support of recycling can make a world of difference, one bag at a time.

"Its important to recycle because it helps the environment in a lot of ways," said sixth-grader Tristin Kurtz.

Kurtz was a driving force behind the school's initiative to create the curbside recycling event, which occurs once a month during the morning drop-off rush.

The idea for the campaign was born after Kurtz saw pictures documenting the effects of unrecycled waste products on wildlife.

"I saw pictures of animals that ate plastic or were caught in lots of kinds of trash," Kurtz said. "That's what made me think that I should do something to help."

Enlisting the assistance of his mother, Christina, Kurtz brought the notion of a recycling drive to the school.

"He was always passionate about recycling before and we have always recycled at our house," Christina Kurtz said. "But the idea of involving the whole school was just bringing it to another level. It's been really great to see how positive the response has been so far."

During the Thursday drive, school staff and administration cheered with students as cars drove up to deliver plastic-filled parcels.

A majority of the 896 members of the kindergarten-through-sixth-grade student body were present to participate in the morning ecological activity.

The event taught participants of all ages about the impact one person has on making a difference.

"It has been very inspiring to see how this one young man's idea took on a life of its own," said Principal Marie Stump. "It teaches that if one person can cause a change, imagine what all of us can do together."

Stump said the Sulphur Springs School District saves close to $18,000 a year on trash pick-up alone.

But recycling benefits don't stop there.

"The money generated by our recycling drive goes to the school's PTA, where students in each grade level will benefit from activities and programs that they otherwise wouldn't be able to have, due to budget cuts," Stump said. "We have had to get creative with ways to keep important programs for the students benefit, such as art and music appreciation. This is a fundraiser that won't cost you anything and helps in many ways."

Proceeds from the sixth-grade class will benefit the various activities surrounding the students' graduation at the end of the year, including the class trip to Hurricane Harbor.

"There wasn't enough money in the budget this year to provide this trip for the graduating class, so the students had to raise this money themselves," Christina Kurtz said. "Not only is this a great way to raise funds, but it also makes the students feel really good about what they're doing. It is an easy way for everyone to participate and learn the importance of recycling at the same time."

Tristin Kurtz shared his mother's sentiments.

"Every person matters," Kurtz said. "Even your bag can make a difference."

Kurtz' mother knows why her son has made a difference already.

"There is already such a mess for our kids to clean up in the future that it's important to start cleaning up now," Kurtz said. "My son inspires me every day and teaches me that we actually can make the world a better place. It's one thing to complain about what's wrong with the world, but it's another to go out and change it."

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