The community contributed in a major way this year to help Midway Middle School round up plastic bottles and cans — and the effort paid off.
The school placed second in the PepsiCo Dream Machine Recycling initiative, a victory that comes with $10,000 for “green improvements” at the school. They also won one of the trimester awards, another $1,000 prize.
Teacher and project coordinator Joy Kennedy said she learned the school received second place Thursday while working the Hinesville Farmers Market with her mother, who sells Kennedy Farms produce there.
“I pulled up my school email on my phone, and it was like, ‘Whoa!’ and then I kept reading and it said $10,000, and I said, ‘Ahhh!’ So then I had to just leave and start calling everybody,” Kennedy said. “Friday at school, everybody was just grinning — it was like, ‘Wow, $10,000.’ Isn’t that amazing for recycling bottles and cans?”
Kennedy has pushed recycling at the school through other initiatives, but this one began as a Builders Club project and the momentum caught on.
Eighth-grade Builders Club members Skyler Stanley and Ciara Goodmanson, who helped collect and inventory the recycling throughout the year, said winning was exciting.
“They’ve worked so hard in the mornings and in homeroom and in the afternoons in homeroom,” Kennedy said. In addition to collecting cans and plastic bottles from non-alcoholic beverages, the students have sorted the items, scanned them into a tallying system and recycled them.
“We got so much community involvement, which was incredible, because we were down at, like, fifth place and fourth place, and now here we are at second place,” she added. Students could earn dress-down days in exchange for recycling contributions, and outside organizations also got involved.
Midway Mayor Dr. Clemontine Washington and the Midway Police Department contributed, as well as The Heritage Bank, Lewis Frasier Middle School, Midway United Methodist Church and Curves in Hinesville.
Principal Debra Frazier echoed Kennedy’s enthusiasm and said the effort united the school and supporting community.
“It’s important to support that for several reasons; for our environment, of course, first and foremost, and anytime a teacher brings an idea, it’s my job to support it …,” Frazier said. “It has become a part of the culture because this is not the first program we’ve done. We’ve done many others and received many other awards for recycling, so now it’s just embedded. That’s what we do.”
Kennedy and Frazier have yet to decide where the money will go, but Kennedy said purchases like iPads — which reduce reliance on paper — are being considered, along with investments in more energy-efficient light bulbs or even more recycling containers or outdoor green space.
Kennedy emphasized that though they’ve tasted victory, students still are recycling and will continue to do so next year.
“We want the $25,000 (first-place prize),” she said.