CHHS students take stake in environment

Published 9:42 pm Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Day is celebrated to raise awareness about the environment and inspire people to do their part in protecting it.

For the newly established Environmental Club at Charles Henderson High School and its founder, Senior Olivia Bensinger, every day is Earth Day.

“I would always bring my lunch to school, and I’d bring my plastic water bottle home to recycle,” Bensinger said.

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While attending Governor’s School in Birmingham last summer, she discovered an eco-friendly program she thought could be implemented at CHHS that would allow her and her classmates to recycle at school.

She needed a faculty-sponsor to make the vision a reality, and Science teacher Alissa Jordan enthusiastically agreed to help.

Since then, the approximately 50 students who originally signed up to help CHHS go green have proved that they are definitely Earth-enthusiastic.

“It’s been totally student run,” Jordan said. “Surprisingly it has been very effective, you expect to have glitches with programs run by teenagers.”

But Jordan said that hasn’t been the case with the CHHS Environmental Club. The members have been reliable and proactive in planning projects and fulfilling their duties.

One of those duties is a recycling campaign that has taken hold at the high school. The CHHS population as a whole has jumped on board by regularly discarding recyclable materials like plastic bottles and cans in strategically placed bins throughout the campus, and it is the Environmental Club students who must gather the bags and separate the materials to be distributed to recycling plants.

The process is done after school and Jordan says there has never been a problem getting it done.

For the week of Earth Day, the club has looked to broaden its efforts.

“This week we’re trying to get people into newspaper recycling,” Jordan said.

To do so, the Environmental Club has organized a competition between freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors to find out which class can bring in the most newspapers to be loaded into drums donated by KW Plastics.

Jordan said the winning class will be displayed on a large banner “in front of the school for the whole world to see,” and of course they’ll get the bragging rights to go along with it.

But Environmental Club volunteers say everyone is a winner, and they hope the competition will evolve into something permanent.

“We’re hoping next year to figure out how to recycle paper,” Jordan said.

And that wouldn’t just be newspapers, but all paper materials, including old notes and bad progress reports.

Jordan said the Environmental Club might discuss those plans tomorrow after a discussion with Mayor Jimmy Lunsford on the importance of recycling.

The Environmental Club is completely sustained by member dues and most importantly the selfless service of CHHS students.

“It’s really a good testimony of how our kids are looking forward,” Jordan said, “not just at themselves.”