Students at Midway Middle School have proven that it truly pays to go green.
As the grand-prize winner of PepsiCo’s 2013-14 Recycle Rally, MMS was awarded a check for $25,000 at an assembly Monday. Students, faculty, PepsiCo representatives and community members gathered in MMS’ gym along with several special guests, including state Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway; Midway Mayor Dr. Clemontine Washington; and Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation Director Sarah Visser.
MMS teacher and Midway Green Team club advisor Joy Kennedy was recognized for her work in spearheading the school’s Recycle Rally program.
According to Kennedy, the Green Team is led by Midway students who work together to recycle and extend the school’s mission of sustainability to the community.
“Throughout the year, I watched members of the team proactively reach out to local businesses, churches and civic groups to increase awareness of the rally,” she said. “I can truly say that I have witnessed firsthand our entire community come together and rally for an important cause.”
In 2010, PepsiCo issued a nationwide challenge to increase the U.S. beverage-container-recycling rate to 50 percent by 2018. As incentive, the K-12 Recycle Rally program divides hundreds of schools from more than 30 states into three size brackets, allowing them to compete against other similar-sized schools for top honors. Midway Middle School won the grand prize in its bracket. Other grand-prize winners were Progress Elementary School in Ogallala, Nebraska, and Torres Elementary School in Victoria, Texas.
Midway collected 11,683 pounds of aluminum cans and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, which comes out to approximately 226,499 containers. Nationwide, a total of 306,350 pounds of recyclables — more than six million PET and aluminum containers — were collected during the 2013-14 school year.
In addition to providing rewards to participating schools, PepsiCo’s recycling program offers support to the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) program.
According to its website, the EBV provides experiential training in entrepreneurship and small-business management to post-9/11 veterans with disabilities resulting from their service to the country. Ben Simmons, EBV graduate and owner of OnCommand K9 Training in Warner Robins, spoke to the assembly about his experience with the program.
“I was pretty much hopeless after 21 years in the Air Force. Forty years old, I thought, ‘I can’t start my own business,’” Simmons said. “And that’s when the EBV program found me.”
Simmons said that the EBV program gave him the support and education he needed to launch his business. He also explained that as a nonprofit organization, the EBV relies heavily on donations, such as those provided by PepsiCo’s recycling program.
“PepsiCo has been an outstanding supporter of the EBV program, and they will continue to be through your efforts with the Recycling Rally,” Simmons said.
Williams lauded MMS students on their accomplishment.
“You’re the heroes of today,” he said. “I am honored to represent the general assembly in congratulating you, the students who made it happen — and I’ll never throw away another bottle or can.”
Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette also delivered a message of thanks to the assembly, as did Liberty County School System Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee.
“I’m proud to be a member of this community, and I’m here to congratulate you on a job well done,” Lee said.
For more information on PepsiCo’s recycling initiatives, go to www.pepsicorecycling.com. Information on the EBV program can be found at www.ebvfoundation.org, and info on Ben Simmons’ OnCommand K9 Training is at www.oncommandk9.com.