Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

December 12, 2013

NDES fifth graders saving the world, one recycle bin at a time

Amanda Browning
Greensburg Daily News

---- — GREENSBURG – Fifth grade students at North Decatur Elementary School (NDES) are on a mission- to clean up the world, starting with their own school.

After participating in the Energizing Indiana program by Duke Energy, the students in Kristen Whipple’s and Jenni Shoettmer’s fifth grade science classes started brainstorming ways they could conserve natural resources and be more energy efficient.

Madelin Hoover, NDES fifth grader said, “We got into the idea after Energizing Indiana. It’s basically about saving our natural resources.”

The students decided to hold a recycling program at NDES. The fifth grade split into groups and thought of ways to promote the program and get the whole school involved and excited about recycling. Whipple said the entire effort has been student-led, from idea to reality.

NDES student Kaitlynne Huffman said, “We started the recycling program so people can recycle and our world doesn’t get trashed.”

Some groups made posters detailing what can be recycled, some contacted WTRE to do a radio advertisement, some made business cards and some decided to contact the Daily News, leading to this article. Students also wrote their own statements that were used during morning announcements, including one student’s recycling rap, among various other efforts.

“We made flyers and set up bins in every classroom,” student Breydon Hausman said.

Best Way Disposal and Decatur County Solid Waste provided 60 recycling bins that were placed in every classroom at NDES, as well as the teacher’s lounge. The first week there was a contest to see which classroom could collect the most recyclables by weight. The two winning classrooms received popcorn and soda as a reward for collecting the most pounds of recyclable items. The students told the Daily News that the contest got a lot of kids excited about recycling.

Student Brayden Wall said, “We made and sent a video to every teacher in the school. We made posters to say what can be recycled and did a contest by weight the first week.”

The students told the Daily News that the most recycled item was paper, by a huge margin. The NDES custodian said there was significantly less trash after the school began recycling. NDES collected 275 pounds of recyclable materials in the first week. All students in the fifth grade get a chance to help empty the recycling bins.

“Every Friday, we go to each fifth grade class. Students who want to help stay in during recess to empty the bins,” said student Zach Frensemeier.

Many of the students involved in planning the program have taken their desire to recycle and keep the world clean outside school too. Several reported telling their parents they needed to recycle at home and one told her mother, who works at the high school, that they needed to recycle there as well.

Several of the students told the Daily News that helping others was their favorite part of the program. They also mentioned enjoying being able to encourage others to recycle. Whipple said the current fifth graders will continue the program for the rest of the year and she hopes to continue it as long as she is teaching at the school.

The program's motto, "Do something fast, before our world gets trashed," seems to be one all the students at NDES are taking to heart. They hope their passion for recycling will inspire others to join in the cause as well.

Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111 x7004;