By Mason W. Canales

The Cove Herald

Hettie Halstead Elementary School students gathered outside the building on Arbor Day to celebrate a year of recycling and plant some new greenery.

"Recycle, recycle, recycle now," sang the students as they danced during a celebration marking their success in collecting aluminum cans.

Throughout the year, students in the seven grades at the school collected more than 37,000 cans in a competition between classrooms. The school used the money earned from turning in the reusable materials to buy seven bushes, which were planted around a flagpole.

"All year long, children brought in aluminum cans to be recycled, and we used the money they raised by recycling to purchase these plants," said Mary Derrick, Halstead's principal, .

The school also purchased trophies for the homeroom classes that collected the most cans during the year.

This program is a tradition at Halstead, said Derrick, adding that it had been collecting cans and planting vegetation for about 25 years.

Several of the trees outside the school are greenery students have worked hard to plant by recycling their waste, she said.

Derrick said she hopes by running such a program, the children will continue to take on sustainable practices such as recycling. "Our goal is to teach them something that can and will be important to them as they become adults."

Several students said they had learned from participating in the recycling competition.

"You want to recycle because you don't want to pollute the Earth," said Koby Allen, a 10-year-old fourth grader. "(Polluting) makes it bad and puts all this gas in the air, and it makes all this stuff look ugly. Without recycling, the Earth would pretty much be trash everywhere."

Recycling is just one way to try and help maintain the planet for coming generations, said Cherith Hicks, a 9-year-old in the fourth grade.

"We need to preserve things for the people in the future," said Cherith. "We need to do everything to help our Earth because the Earth is irreplaceable."

"I think all people should care about the Earth, said Anyah Marks, an 11-year-old fifth-grader.

Derrick said the celebration wasn't really about Arbor Day or Earth Day, as much as it was about the children's efforts in recycling the cans.

"Arbor Day isn't any more important than any other day," said Derrick. "They should always recycle, but if you have to choose to do something like this, then why not celebrate their accomplishments on a day for honoring what they were working for?"

Contact Mason W. Canales at or (254) 501-7474. Follow of him Twitter KDHCoveEditor.

Can collector winners

Pre-kindergarten: Paula Hunter's class with 3,165 cans

Kindergarten: Cindy Sheldon's class with 286 cans

First grade: Beckie Miller's class with 1,883 cans

Second grade: Debbie Zudell's class with 1,210 cans

Third grade: Ann Akui's class with 5,312 cans

Fourth grade: Virginia Jenkins' class with 9,164 cans

Fifth grade: Connie Meadors' class with 6,622 cans

Jenkins' class also won a trophy for most cans collected.

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