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Students learn about recycling

Actor Pamela Turpen as “Granny Mayhem” reminds Shoultes Elementary students that some items can be reused before being recycled, during a school assembly on recycling and the environment coordinated by Waste Management on Dec. 4. - Kirk Boxleitner
Actor Pamela Turpen as “Granny Mayhem” reminds Shoultes Elementary students that some items can be reused before being recycled, during a school assembly on recycling and the environment coordinated by Waste Management on Dec. 4.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — A number of Marysville elementary schools are getting some dramatic and interactive lessons on the importance of recycling and preserving the environment this winter, courtesy of Waste Management.

After appearing at Pinewood Elementary on Nov. 29, a pair of players from Triangle Associates took their prop-heavy skits to Shoultes Elementary on Tuesday, Dec. 4, as part of a program of 25 free school assembles and 50 classroom workshops scheduled for this fall and winter in Snohomish County by Waste Management, which has also been contacted by six schools for technical assistance on recycling. Kellogg Marsh Elementary is set to receive a visit from the eco-conscious acting duo of Eric Mulholland and Pamela Turpen on Dec. 17.

Kelly Meacham, a fourth-grade teacher at Shoultes Elementary, worked with Waste Management to schedule the Dec. 4 skit assembly to try and pass on the values that she practices outside of the classroom, so that her students might do the same.

“I know that we all can make growth in our recycling, reusing, reducing waste and rethinking how to conserve our natural resources,” Meacham said. “I’m a huge environmentalist with seven compost containers at home, and in the classroom I have a scrap paper box for students to use the back sides of their paper, and a recycle container next to the garbage that I check at the end of the day, and let students know if they’ve used it correctly.”

One of Meacham’s goals in inviting the skit players to Shoultes was to get her students excited about reducing waste in the classroom, from the ways they pack their lunches to how they dispose of waste from their lunch trays, especially since Shoultes recently began a recycling and composting program in its lunch room.

“But what I learned is that I could have my students put their notebook papers in a place where other students could use the other sides of that paper,” Meacham said. “This is a way of rethinking how to reduce waste for me too.”

Mulholland and Turpen just began their current tour of Snohomish County schools on Nov. 19, during which they each don a variety of wigs and costumes to play a an assortment of comic characters in front of a colorful backdrop that gets converted into several “locations” throughout the course of their performances. But behind their wacky antics and picking students from the audience to join them onstage, where the grade-schoolers get to dress up as water bottles and play mock game shows, their program hammers home the message that Earth’s resources are essential and need to be used responsibly.

“At a lot of assemblies, the kids just sit and watch,” Mulholland said. “The information loses some of its power that way. One of the best things about this approach is that it helps solidify what the kids are learning by making them a part of it. There are a lot of us on this planet, and we all have a lot of stuff, but we can all do our part to make the planet cleaner, and part of that involves getting future generations in the habit of recycling stuff.”

Candy Castellanos, the public education and outreach manager for Waste Management in the Pacific Northwest, explains that this school program is merely one facet of Waste Management’s outreach to educators, businesses and community groups alike to raise awareness of why recycling and conserving resources is important, how to recycle the right way, and why it’s important to keep garbage out of the recycling.

“We do site walks through workplaces and recycling workshops for adults,” Castellanos said. “For kids, we’re not just looking to give them recycling 101, but also some sense of how this will help natural habitat and why they shouldn’t want these resources to go to waste. Grade school is when kids really start to take an interest in the world around them. Not only can they gain a better understanding of recycling, but they also get to be experts and ambassadors on the subject at home.”

Castellanos added that the school assemblies are designed to incorporate state standards for science education, and will be followed by surveys and studies comparing the students’ recycling behavior before and after sitting in on those assemblies.

Assemblies, workshops and technical assistance are available to any elementary school in Snohomish County from now through December of 2013.

 

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