GIS students reach for the stars with new recycling initiatives

Man weighing trash speaks to students as they sit and listen.
Ermin Siljkovic, recycling coordinator at Orange County DPW, instructs fourth grade students in Teegan Kennedy’s class how to properly weigh cafeteria waste. The school will implement new recycling practices in an effort to reduce waste in the cafeteria.

Goshen Intermediate School students in Teegan Kennedy’s fourth grade class are reaching for the stars – and helping reduce unnecessary waste in their school.

According to Kennedy, the “three Rs” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) have always been important to her students, who work together to recycle in their classroom. The students also pick up the recycling in each of the special area classrooms and offices within the school.

This year, the Goshen Intermediate School is participating in the Orange County Green Star School Program (OCGSSP) that awards stars to schools for their green practices, like committing to better recycling habits and reducing waste.

Students are working to reduce waste in the cafeteria by recycling items from both school lunches and lunches brought from home. A waste audit was conducted on October 17 with the guidance of Ermin Siljkovic, the Recycling Coordinator from the Orange County Department of Public Works. The results of the audit will offer a benchmark from which any improvements will be measured.

New recycling bins will be added to the cafeteria as well as a station for students to dump leftover milk, which will reduce the overall weight of trash. Students will also “tap and stack” their compostable trays, further reducing the space of their waste. In addition, students will be encouraged to “ditch the straw” to reduce plastic waste.

According to Kennedy, the best part of the OCGSSP program is that students will run the show as far as recycling in the cafeteria. A Green Team of students will monitor how their classmates sort and dispose their waste and help out where needed.

Earlier this year, Kennedy made a school-wide presentation on the importance of recycling and plans to offer more assemblies throughout the year to keep students and staff aware of modifications to their green practices.

Visit the Orange County New York website to learn more about the Green Star Schools Program.

Woman holds compostable lunch tray and water bottle in front of large screen.
“If we continue to believe that the actions of a single person will not make a difference, nothing will ever change.” For several years, Fourth Grade Teacher Teegan Kennedy has educated students about the importance of recycling and green practices. She made a school-wide presentation earlier this year to educate students about recycling and new green initiatives in the cafeteria.