Linden Elementary School in Oak Ridge and Midway Middle School in Ten Mile were recognized at the University of Tennessee homecoming game as two of the statewide winners of the Good Sports Always Recycle, or GSAR, program’s school challenge. Seven other schools were also recognized. All nine were awarded $1,000 each for their programs.
The award sponsors were Eastman Chemical Company, Food City, Waste Connections of Tennessee, and the University of Tennessee, a press release said.
The other GSAR School Challenge winners were Abintra Montessori School in Nashville, Cleveland High School in Cleveland, Emmett Elementary School in Bristol, Fayette Academy in Somerville, John Adams Elementary School in Kingsport, Newport Grammar School in Newport, and Union Elementary STEM and Demonstration School in Gallatin.
New Hope Christian Academy in Memphis was awarded $1,500 for the GSAR Sustainability Steward Award, and Libertas School of Memphis was awarded $1,500 for the Best New Program.
Winning schools are actively reducing waste, providing environmental education in their school, and/or have a program in place to reduce their overall impact through energy and water conservation, recycling programs, the use of green space, or other environmental programs, the press release said.
Along with the financial award, the winning schools were provided a behind-the-scenes look at the Vol Network studios, participated in a tailgate celebration, and were recognized in an on-field presentation during the game.
In addition, the GSAR program provides teachers with educational resources, including grade specific lesson plans and program ideas, to teach students the importance of sustainability. These resources are available for download at www.eastman.com/GSAR.
The press release said students at Linden Elementary School began a paper recycling program in which the fourth grade collected the recycled paper weekly from each classroom sometime shortly after Linden’s new building was opened. That program became the prototype for all the schools of the district and has grown into a single stream initiative implemented by the school’s supervisor of maintenance and operations.
“Today the school recycles many different items including metal, cardboard, plastics, and paper,” the press release said. “There is also a student-designed and -built nature trail with student-made guides. Outside of the school, there is a wetland, Linden Lagoon, as well as a pollinator garden and the Tre’ Vann Memorial Garden, which are used as outdoor classrooms year-round. There are also raised flowerbeds, which are used as small garden plots, and a milkweed garden for Monarch butterflies, from which eggs and new caterpillars were harvested and observed as they changed and finally were released as butterflies.”
The press release said students often participate in “Pick-up Trash Hikes,” they maintain the wetland and nature trail by helping on “Work-day Saturdays,” and the “Girls on the Run” club planted several native flowering plants in the “Tre’ Vann Memorial Garden” and help to maintain it during their club time.
“Eastman, through the Good Sports Always Recycle program, has been recognizing schools for over two decades,” said David Golden, senior vice president, chief legal and sustainability officer, and corporate secretary at Eastman. “We are pleased to make this year’s program better than ever by adding a new category for those schools that are in the early stages of starting an environmental program.
Sustainability is about creating value, Golden said in the press release, and this program is a great opportunity to do just that.
“We are not only educating students about the importance of environmental stewardship, we are assisting schools across the state in making a positive impact in their communities,” Golden said.
“The GSAR program gives schools a once-in-a-lifetime celebration to honor their hard work and commitment to the environment,” said Mickey Blazer, executive vice president of operations at Food City. “It is always impressive to hear about what schools in Tennessee are doing to be environmental stewards, and we hope each year that this will inspire more schools to start or strengthen their programs.”
The press release said the GSAR program is celebrating its 23rd year, and more than 240 schools have been awarded more than $150,000 for their environmental programs.
“TDEC is proud to once again participate in the GSAR program as a judge and sponsor,” said Commissioner Bob Martineau. “It is vitally important for our schools to not only teach students the importance of waste diversion, but to also demonstrate how it can be done in our daily lives.”
The press release said Midway Middle School began its recycling efforts in the spring of 2012 in order to reduce the amount of waste being placed in the school’s dumpster. Since the fall semester of 2013, more than 21 tons of recyclable waste has been emptied from the Midway Middle recycling receptacle by the Solid Waste Department of Roane County, the release said.
Midway Middle involves all students, staff, and community members in the recycling/environmental program. By partnering with Volunteer Energy Cooperative, Keep Roane Litter Free, Roane County Solid Waste Management, Roane County Schools Department of Transportation, Roane County Highway Department, University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service (4-H), Kroger Supermarkets, Wesley Woods Environmental Camp, Camp John Knox (River Ridge Environmental Program), and Tennessee Technological University (Upper Rural Cumberland S.T.E.M. Initiative), the school’s efforts are promoted, reinforced, and practiced in the Midway Middle School Community, the press release said.
Currently, students, staff, and community members are depositing recyclable paper, newspaper, mixed paper, cardboard, plastic, and aluminum cans in the Midway Middle recycling receptacle.
Also, students are taught in science classes about the earth’s resources, being good stewards’ of resources, and energy conservation, the release said. To conserve electricity, lights are turned off in classrooms when not in use, computer-controlled setback thermostats are used at Midway Middle to conserve electric air conditioning and heating, computers are set to “sleep mode” when not in use, and window shading is open in the winter to let “heat in the building and closed in the summer to conserve energy. Student gardeners have terraced and landscaped the hilltop school with ornamental plants to prevent soil erosion and planted a Midway Middle vegetable garden to promote sustainable living.
The press release said Midway plans to use its GSAR prize money to purchase permanent, large dedicated commercial recycling containers with lids for the gym lobby, cafeteria, teachers’ lounge, and outside learning pavilion.
“The Midway Community of Roane County is honored to be recognized for its environmental stewardship and commitment to sustainable living,” said Amy Cawood, principal of Midway Middle School. “Midway Middle School educates, encourages, and enables students, faculty, and staff to be good stewards of our earth’s resources by practicing recycling, sustainable living, and conserving natural resources in our Midway community.”
In addition to the school challenge, the press release said, Good Sports Always Recycle is the University of Tennessee’s year-round recycling program, which is working toward zero waste at the athletic venues across campus. During the 2015 football season alone, GSAR averaged 23.4 tons recycled, composted, or donated per game.
The GSAR program includes recycling and compost facilities throughout the university’s athletic facilities, and during the 2015 football season, the program recycled 143.5 tons, composted 17.3 tons, and donated 2.9 tons food, the press release said.
“The GSAR program has had a tremendous impact on the University of Tennessee over the last two decades, and we are excited about seeing the program continue to evolve to lessen the footprint athletic events have on the environment,” said Greg Hee, division vice president of Waste Connections.
The Good Sports Always Recycle program is sponsored by Eastman, Food City and Waste Connections, in conjunction with the University of Tennessee.
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