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To get the program started this year, the students visited with Tony Garza, recycling coordinator for Alton and the earth, or the city’s recycling mascot, HERO (Helping Earth Recover Resources).
The students were able to view a presentation about recycling to learn about what can and cannot be recycled.
Garza told the students that the items they collect have to be clean. Pizza boxes that have the grease and cheese from the pizza on them cannot be recycled. Drinking bottles and other items need to be rinsed as well or they cannot be recycled.
Last year, the school teamed up with the city to promote recycling in their school. The school now has recycling bins placed in several locations throughout the campus. The bins are a constant reminder to collect paper, plastic and cardboard. The bins are collected every Friday.
Garza said they hope to be able to collect glass products in the near future. They can only recycle what there is a market for, he said. The items recycled get sold to someone else. They have averaged about 13,000 pounds of recyclable material a month.
Alton has teamed up with approximately 12 schools in Sharyland Independent School District, La Joya Independent School District and Mission Consolidated Independent School District, said Garza. He added that they have seen an increase in the amount of items being recycled because of these partnerships. The partnership with the schools has been very effective at getting the message out that the city has a recycling program.
“We have to take care of our environment,” said Garza. “And we got to start here.”
The active members of the JET Club have been busy sharing recycling information with friends, teachers and their parents. Last year, they beautified an outside area with pavers. This year they plan to add birdhouses made out of recycled materials to the schools landscape. When that project is done, the students want to make bird feeders.
The organizer of JET Club, first-grade teacher Sofia Gutierrez, said she has seen an increase in the amount of recyclable materials being brought to the school. She said students are bringing in bags of plastic bottles regularly.
“Even if we can’t do it as a whole group, the teachers can integrate it into their lessons,” said Gutierrez.
Darlene Jamison, a school counselor, said they have been able to incorporate recycling into the science curriculum and vocabulary at the school as well. Teachers, coaches, staff and students have been coming up with different ideas on how they can help the environment.
The participants in JET Club are second to sixth graders and meet every Thursday to discuss what they can do to better their environment and beautify their school. The club currently has 11 active members and more students are asking to join.
Several fourth-graders and members of the JET Club were eager to share what they have learned by being members of the club. They said it’s easy to just not throw items of trash away on the road.
Tony Gutierrez pointed out that gum on the roadway could even be hazardous to birds.
Fourth-graders L.J. Chavez and Franky Aranda said they have learned how to keep the school, their homes and the earth clean and how this benefits the environment, animals and safety of everything on the planet.
Hannah Jamison has enjoyed being a part of JET Club and learning how to reuse materials to create bird feeders by using birdseed, empty toilet paper rolls and peanut butter.
“We can make the world a better place by recycling and making it prettier,” said Hannah.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.