Capital students display their knowledge of recycling

Erika Synoski is adamant about protecting the environment.

Her sense of urgency when it comes to environmental issues enabled the Central Middle School Student to dominate at the newly created Recycled Art Contest in Capital School District.

“The environment is very important and this is my way to help,” she said.

Synoski’s road to victory was paved with recyclable materials, such as straws, plastic bottles and aluminum cans. The theme for her entry was clean energy and the name of her project was “Fairytale Kingdom Gone Green.”

“We need more alternate energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines,” she said.

At the elementary school level Jaseena Garfield and Jocelyn Guy worked on the project together.

At only 9 years old the South Dover Elementary School third grader understands the importance of recycling. But recycling isn’t her only interest.

“I enjoy being creative,” she said.

The district recently challenged students to take recyclable materials and create original art. The winners were recognized at the July 19 Capital School District Board of Education meeting, received signed certificates from DNREC officials and free park passes from the Delaware Department of Parks and Recreation.

Dover High School English teacher Lane Carter came up with the idea for a contest. She wanted students to be aware of what it means to recycle.

“It’s all about social consciousness,” Carter said. “If we don’t recycle [objects] or use them again they are just going to go into a place where it might hurt the environment.”

Carter was already applying for a DNREC recycling grant.

Jackie Howard with DNREC’s Solid and Waste Management said Carter’s art contest went hand-in-hand with her proposal to increase recycling in schools. Last week, she said Capital School District received a grant for $21,000.

Carter’s plan adds a recycling container to every classroom. At the end of the day each is emptied into a central container.

Last year, Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Elliot Harding won a similar grant and used it to purchase large recycling bins placed outside the high school.

For Carter the key is making sure people have access to the right stuff.

“It’s easy to say you have to recycle. But people don’t because they don’t know or they don’t have the right materials,” she said. “Elliot did a great job last year getting the dumpsters in place and then this year I’m trying to carry the ball down the field.”

Howard said DNREC wants schools and other large establishments to recycle more, but she understands the challenges that come with convincing people to recycle.

“People want it to be convenient so you have to make it convenient by having [the opportunity to recycle] where people are,” she said.

Howard said Capital School District will start tracking the amount of trash diverted into recycling. Tracking it is a grant requirement.

“It’s all part of a bigger picture of getting everybody on board to recycle and understanding ‘hey, I empty my recycling three times a week and I only empty my trash once,’” she said.