HANCEVILLE, Ala. – First-grade teacher Michelle Pender of Hanceville Elementary School recently accepted the PALS Clean Campus Program award and $1000 scholarship for the school. This program competition was a scrapbook contest. Michelle said, “In the scrapbook, we submit all of our efforts for litter upkeep, beautification projects around campus that a grade level or a class may take upon themselves, all of our recycling efforts and any environmental education programs that we provide.” Michelle documented and photographed these events and submitted them in the scrapbook.
Michelle explained the environmental programs going on at the school, saying, “Right now, we have the North Alabama Agriplex that visits grades 1st-3rd. It’s almost a monthly basis. Right now, due to funding and their time restrictions, and we still have some Covid restrictions in place, they’re only able to come to us three times a semester. They come and do an amazing job and the kids learn so much. The educators from the Agriplex are just outstanding. They do a great job.”
“In the past we have had the Cullman County Soil and Water Commission come and present conservation, but they have been still on Covid restriction. We’re hoping in the next semester to schedule them to come back again, and they did come once a month before all the restrictions.”
She continued, “Each grade level has some curricula that they implement that has environmental education due to recycling. We have a recycling program here. We just finished a big contest to increase our recycling of plastic bottles which was a lot of fun. We were able to collect, in three weeks and take to the recycling center, 89 55-gallon bags of plastic bottles that otherwise would’ve been thrown away. Last year, we collected 89 all year long, so we went from 89 during a nine-month activity to three weeks.”
The recent recycling program offered the classes a chance to win a “purple cow party.” Michelle said when she was growing up, and her family would get together, the dessert would be a “purple cow” which is vanilla ice cream with Grapico poured over it. The event was inspired by the Pepsi Co. Recycle Rally which the school is a member of. The school submits the items they have recycled through Pepsi’s online program and receives points. One of the ways to earn extra points during October-November was to have an intraschool contest.
The scholarship award money went to Deanne Johnson’s art program to help her purchase art supplies.
Michelle said, “We are so thankful and excited to be able to have an art program again. Funding had been cut for that and then our school decided it was a great opportunity for kids to have success and enjoyment, and they learn a lot.” Deanne is going to be teaching environmental education through recycled art. Michelle said, “She has no extra funding for art, and she has over 600 students every week. We felt that that was the best implementation of funding that we could do at this time.”
She concluded, “The students and teachers have been super involved. The parents, the community, even the high school and middle school have begun to participate in recycling efforts. Its not a big thing, but every small act can make a big difference.”
The school has monthly campus clean-ups in which the community is welcome to participate.
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