Enfield High School seniors spread the message of recycling

By Jennifer Holloway - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Wed., Jun. 22, 2011
Members of the Recycling Club at Enfield High School worked to raise awareness of the issue in their school. Pictured, left to right: Club advisor Stephen Smith, Catherine Oliver, Samantha Wages, Ben Hosley, Mohamed Issa, Martin Caldon and Patrick Knighton. Photo by Jennifer Holloway.
Members of the Recycling Club at Enfield High School worked to raise awareness of the issue in their school. Pictured, left to right: Club advisor Stephen Smith, Catherine Oliver, Samantha Wages, Ben Hosley, Mohamed Issa, Martin Caldon and Patrick Knighton. Photo by Jennifer Holloway.

It all started with a vision from the Class of 2010. What Enfield High School needed was a recycling club, but with summer nearing, there was little time to start. Then-junior Samantha Wages took the idea and ran with it in September.

“We got crazy about recycling,” said Wages, who will graduate with the Class of 2011 on June 25.

A core group of about eight seniors kept the movement alive, encouraging the student body to donate milk and juice cartons and 5-cent returnables.

“It affects not just our future, but everyone’s,” said Martin Caldon.

“It’s our responsibility to help reduce [waste] as much as we can,” added Patrick Knighton.

In the beginning, Mike Desmond said other students were resistant to the idea, but the Recycling Club helped motivate students with posters and by encouraging their friends.

“They didn’t realize what they could recycle, so they did the easier thing and threw it away,” Knighton said.

“Changing a behavior pattern is not an easy thing,” club advisor Stephen Smith added.

“At first we had to stand there and guide students into recycling,” said Catherine Oliver. “At the beginning of the year, the barrels were barely full, and now they are overflowing.”

By the end of the year, students averaged five to six large trash bags of recyclables a day. The club also began holding a competition for Subway and Dunkin Donuts gift cards, which helped increase their 5-cent returnable collecting.

Smith confirmed the idea started with the students, but their efforts persuaded him to do more. “I was bitten by the bug,” he said.

When another science teacher saw a need to donate old textbooks, rather than toss them, Smith researched organizations and found Reading Tree. Students began collecting these, in addition to bottles and cartons.

One senior was bitten by the bug through a different channel: art.

It started with a rose and grew to fashion design. When Ashley Piepul saw a rose painting created with book pages, she was inspired to create a dress using the same material.

“I was never into recycling,” Piepul said. “Once the dress came along - now everything I see I think about recycling.”

She and the painting’s creator, Jessica Gerbutovich, a 2009 graduate of Enfield High, organized a fashion show using recycled materials.

“We wanted to show the creative side of recycling,” Gerbutovich said.

During Earth Week, the Recycling Club helped collect materials for Piepul. The show was held June 1, and students and faculty modeled about 25 outfits. Materials used ranged from plastic bags and cardboard to Snapple caps and decks of cards.

Following the show at EHS, Piepul and Gerbutovich went on the road to Stowe Elementary for a second fashion show. They hoped the recycled outfits would inspire the young students to be unique and different.

“I’ve always been really shy,” Piepul said, “but I learned you don’t have to hold yourself back.”

Though Enfield High has nowhere near 100-percent participation in its recycling efforts, Smith feels the seniors have inspired the underclassmen to continue working for the cause. “We’ve set a pattern for them,” he said.


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