By Todd Martin

Special to the Hood Herald

Meadows Elementary School on Fort Hood took seriously a challenge to collect recyclable materials.

The school's science club, led by fifth-grade science teacher Jared Disher, began in February picking up plastic bottles, aluminum cans, newsprint and cardboard from classes once a week.

More teachers got excited about the recycling effort and the school requested and received additional collection bins to haul the growing amount of classroom-generated items.

The school's peer leadership team and science club added a second day of pick-up to handle the growth in the school program.

The Fort Hood Recycling Center added Meadows and neighboring Duncan Elementary School to its pick-up schedule in February.

Disher said custodians and cafeteria employees report a major decrease in trash discarded to the Dumpsters since Fort Hood Recycling began picking up the items at the school.

"Everything is going great," Disher said. "We have actually added another collection day since so many teachers have become involved."

On collection day, six students work with Disher to carry blue bins through the hallways to pick up collected items from the classrooms.

Some students hold doors open, while others carry the goods and dump them into the large collection bins set up behind the school. The large collectors look like Dumpsters, but bare labels for plastic, aluminum, paper and cardboard.

The project spawned an Earth Day assignment for students to create useful items out of recycled materials.

Students came up with birdhouses, bags, Easter baskets and other items. "They did an excellent job," Disher said. "This project really helped the students to understand the importance of recycling and reusing."

"I think we're doing a good thing," said fifth-grader Simone Nielsen during a collection day. "It's hard work, but it's worth it. We're saving the world."

"It's exciting to help the earth," fifth-grader John Ambrose said. "It's fun and we've started our own special group to do it."

"They enjoy it," Disher said, "and that means they will probably keep doing it when they get older."

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