Some call it Going Green. Others just view it as protecting the environment. Still another group sees it as saving a world of tomorrows by acting today.
One’s chosen vernacular is not at issue. These are just semantics. The true task is finding a way to be good to our planet by protecting this home that is best called life.
To do so requires planting a seed of care and nurturing it within the minds of the young.
It has been said our children are our future. No truer words have ever been spoken, and they should be repeated with a succinct and genuine tone ... over and over and over.
It is why programs of recycling, such as one now in the care of the Bradley County Schools system, should be emulated by all who wish to stake a claim in the years that lie ahead.
In a recent front-page news article that we dubbed “Recycling Young: County students taking the lead,” Staff Writer Joyanna Weber took an in-depth look at practices now being carried out in several elementary schools of our county system.
It is not token homage to conservation.
It is not a single school’s effort to lead the pack.
It is not one classroom proudly proclaiming to others, “Look what we’ve done!”
It is not somebody’s newest idea on giving teachers another chore to do.
It is not about getting media exposure and clipping a newspaper memento for a scrapbook.
It is not adults doing all the work and their kids getting the glory.
It is Green. It is Conservation. It is Recycling. It is teaching young minds by involving young hands. It is instructing by doing. It is forging a future by exploring the past and taking action in the present.
Here’s what’s happening.
At Prospect Elementary School, a recycling program was implemented last year with the help of BEST partner Santek Environmental. This year, the initiative was expanded to become an integral part of Bradley County Schools’ leadership focus.
At Prospect, the fourth-graders are doing the work. Two students in each fourth-grade class are selected by the teachers to serve on a recycling team that collects paper from the classrooms and delivers them to a large recycling container outside. In other grades, teachers select a student to carry the boxes of paper from each class to the awaiting fourth-graders in the hallway.
It’s a team approach as well at other schools such as Waterville Community and Valley View elementaries.
At Waterville, parent John Burger helped to launch a recycling program six years ago. Each Friday, fifth-graders help him collect paper and other recyclables from classrooms. All such refuse is taken to Rock-Tenn Recycling where it is purchased. All proceeds are returned to the school and have been used toward the CDC playground.
At Valley View, BEST partner Doug Caywood of Downtown Design Studio works with recycling as a selected student from each classroom, designated as a leadership position, is in charge of collecting recyclable paper. Valley View students also have been involved in designing murals that label each recycling bin.
Recycling as leadership training is not limited to Prospect, Waterville and Valley View. Other schools are heavily involved and are just as worthy of mention.
To repeat, our children are our future. It is their ideas, and their practices, that will serve as everlasting gift to Mother Earth.
As adults, our prime responsibility is to teach, to encourage and then to support.
Teaching leadership skills through recycling during such tender, and impressionable, years is the start of something very good.
Let us not just recognize, and thank, these young movers.
Let us borrow their ideas.
Let us teach them to others.