Paint Branch Elementary School in College Park is working toward a cleaner environment, thanks to its newly formed Green Team recycling club.
The Green Team, a group of 30 fourth- to sixth-graders who spend time after school on Fridays making the community a cleaner place, was created last month by Kimberly Reddick, an English for Speakers of Other Languages teacher at the school.
Principal Emmett Hendershot said that when Prince George’s County mandated that schools improve recycling this year, Reddick recruited a group of student volunteers to collect recycling from each classroom.
“All this is her doing,” Hendershot said. “She’s been doing a great job with it. She’s very enthusiastic and she really gets them all fired up.”
The University of Maryland Recycling and Solid Waste Program donated 30 recycling bins to the school, and the university’s Office of Community Engagement has been actively involved in assisting the school’s recycling efforts, Reddick said.
Emily Adams, community partner project coordinator for the Office of Community Engagement, said the partnership to support Paint Branch’s recycling program is a continuation of the university’s commitment to support local schools.
Currently, the school only collects paper for recycling, but will soon have bins for collecting plastic and metal as well, Reddick said.
The school will get paid by the recycling center for every ton of paper collected, and Reddick said the Green Team hopes to use some of the money for a pizza party.
Once a month, the Green Team also removes trash and recyclables from the nearby Paint Branch Stream Valley Park along the hiker/biker path, where there is a trap that collects trash from runoff water to keep it from being carried into Paint Branch Stream.
“If people left trash and nobody picked it up and recycled it, we would have lots of landfills and everything would be dirty, even the water we drink,” said sixth-grader Joshua Blake, a member of the Green Team.
Fifth-grade student Charlie Stevenson, also a member of the Green Team, said he feels the club plays an important role.
“Recycling is really important because people are always throwing things on the ground, and now we will be there to pick it up,” he said.
Reddick said she was looking for ways her team could be involved in environmental activities outside the school and was put in contact with Ariel Trajan, manager of environmental education for the Anacostia Watershed Society, a nonprofit organization that maintains the trash trap near the school.
“This is a great opportunity for the kids to be involved in an authentic project near their school,” Trajan said.
Reddick said the Green Team will be growing native wetland plants in the school for later transplantation along the Anacostia River as part of a wetland restoration project. They will also take a boat trip down the Anacostia River and a field trip to a recycling center, Reddick said.
“I’m really hoping they’ll become lifelong recyclers,” Reddick said.