NEW HAVEN — Some environmentally conscious students at New Haven Elementary School learned that hard work pays off, when they won awards recently in the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection youth program.
Students who participated in the school “Litter to Literacy” program took first place in the state contest. The third and fourth graders won in the environmental achievement division. They received a trophy, certificate and a $300 prize.
In addition, the newly formed school environmental club, made up of fifth graders, won second place in their division. They also received a trophy, certificate and $300.
The “Litter to Literacy” program is ongoing. It promotes recycling in the school, as well as the community. Recycling bins were placed at the school and those participating in the recycling earned, and can continue to earn, free books at the school or the New Haven library.
“This program made an impact not only on the school, but in the community, as well,” said teacher Shayla Blackshire.
She oversaw the program, aided by fellow teachers Laura Cullen, Rhonda Tennant, Louease Sayre, Judy Smith and Kirsten James.
Blackshire said next year the students will continue to educate the community on the benefits of recycling. The prize money will go back into the program, she added.
“New Haven Elementary is up and coming in showing real leadership,” Blackshire stated. “The children are also learning when they do good things, they are recognized.”
The environmental club began this past school year and is under the leadership of teachers Ammie Jordan and Marsha Nagy. Members included Amber Wolfe, president; Josiah Lloyd, vice president; Emma Young, secretary; and Selene Aguirre, Matthew Barr, Ethan Gray, Mikie Lieving, Nathan Manuel, Trey Ohlinger, Zaira Orale, Andrew Roush and Kase Stewart.
Activities included decorating classroom recycling bins and collecting the recyclables from the classrooms every week. The club researched endangered species and had a poster contest displaying their selected animals.
Students also cleaned up Blessing Road on West Virginia Make It Shine Day, followed by a picnic in the Letart Park. In honor of Arbor Day, a grove of white pine and red oak tree seedlings were planted in the schoolyard.
Both groups cleaned the New Haven park. Plants and shrubs were planted that were provided by Bob’s Market and Greenhouses Inc.
Cade Blackshire, a first-grade student at New Haven, was recognized individually for winning first place in the state DEP environmental poster contest. He received a $100 prize.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who lives in Mason County.