Freshman recycling assemblies are first step in new conservation education program

Feb. 28, 2005, midnight | By Danny Scheer | 15 years, 9 months ago

Assemblies were held in the auditorium last Wednesday, Feb. 23 to encourage freshmen to recycle around Blair. The event, which took place during students' Connections classes, was the first educational opportunity for students as part of the newly established recycling education program, which began second semester.

The assemblies consisted of six components: a pre-test about recycling, a student speaker from Blair, an adult speaker (the Recycling Coordinator for Montgomery County), a video produced by one of the event coordinators, senior Allison Elvove, a question-and-answer period and a post-test. "The assembly is well-structured," commented Connections Coordinator Cindy Villavicencio, who helped organize the event.

Elvove explained that the purpose of the assemblies was "to bring awareness about recycling" so that students would understand their responsibility to recycle. That way, instead of teachers sorting through recycling bins to remove the trash, students will have to take a larger role in keeping the school clean. "Teachers won't have to be the bad guys about recycling," Elvove said.

Villavicencio added that the assemblies served as an introduction to the new recycling curriculum in place in Connections. "I didn't want to throw the program at the teachers without informing the students," she explained. This semester, Connections classes have begun to teach students about recycling. In addition, English and Connections teacher Carole Tomayko and her sixth period Connections class have voluntarily taken on the leadership role in the physical collection process.

Students, such as senior Robert Duncan, spoke to the freshmen classes during each period of the day to inform students about what can and cannot be recycled and how to encourage each other. "Just say, 'Hey, it doesn't go in there,'" Duncan explained to the first-period Connections class to tell their classmates who throw recyclables in trash cans.

Following the student speaker, the Recycling Coordinator for Montgomery County Public Schools, Ana Carbajal, spoke during each class period, lecturing about conserving energy and resources. "Most of the items we use on a daily basis can be recycled," Carbajal explained to the freshmen. "Recycling is really up to you guys."

The video, which was shown after Carbajal spoke, was seen by Villavicencio as a positive reinforcement for encouraging freshmen to recycle. "It hit close to home," Villavicencio said about the video, which depicted Blazers overtly neglecting plastic bottles on the ground and throwing trash into recycling bins. She added that images and interviews of freshmen taking on the initiative to collect recycling around Blair helped others to get excited as well. "[Students] saw their friends participating and encouraging recycling," Villavicencio said.

Recycling education and collection was encouraged last year by Students for Global Responsibility (SGR). According to Duncan, SGR members proposed that Connections classes pick up recycling around the school in addition to implementing an education program. Students met in late January with the Connections faculty team to devise an agenda. Before Connections, CAP students picked up recycling around the building but eventually stopped one year ago. "We hoped Connections could take on the job instead," explained Elvove.

For the remaining school year, freshmen, in their Connections classes, will continue to learn about recycling through various hands-on approaches, including field trips, poster-making and labeling recycling bins. Elvove emphasized the importance of seeing and doing as a more effective means to encourage recycling awareness rather than lecturing. "If you see the video and attend the assembly, you'll be more likely to fix it and do something about it," Elvove said. "If we start with [freshmen], then everyone will be informed by senior year."

As for the 2005-2006 school year, Villavicencio proposed a new assembly schedule so that the Connections team will get a head start in the fall. "Hopefully, we can do the assembly at the beginning of the year and hope that Connections adopts [the recycling program]," she envisioned.

Because of inclement weather, assemblies held on even days are postponed until arrangements can be made for use of the auditorium.

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