Students cited for work toward greener Elgin | Courier-News

Fri May 31, 2013

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ELGIN — The two dozen seventh-graders on the Larsen Middle School Green Team want to be ambassadors, “to spread our message to other students in the district,” Kylie Graves said.

They can start with the sixth-graders, the leaders at their schools, to take that message to the elementary schools in Elgin School District U46. They can reach out to the other middle schools.

And while high schools already may have environmental clubs, they can share ideas with the students at those schools, added Nereida Rosas.

Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain calls that idea — and the work the Green Team already has done over the past five years — “amazing.” 

“We’re all connected here. We all have an impact on the community around us,” Kaptain said.

Kaptain and Doug McCreight, division manager of textile recycling firm USAgain, stopped by Green Team sponsor Trish Molley’s classroom at Larsen on Wednesday morning to learn more about the environmental club’s activities this school year.

The Green Team was presented with one of the city’s first Green Awards earlier this month at the Elgin Green Expo. And it collected more recyclable materials last month for the USAgain bin — about 1,300 pounds — in the school parking lot than it had in all of 2012.

“I’m just so proud of all the students that have come through the team and the message they have learned and hopefully the message they will be taking with them,” said Molley, who teaches science.

In classes, too

The teacher touches on environmental science in her classes, and it’s something that is important to her, she has said. But the idea for the club came from her students — several had approached her in 2009 about entering the city of Elgin’s mascot contest.

We entered it, and one thing led to another, and all of a sudden we had a program. Every year it just keeps growing. More students are interested,” she said.

The Green Team has produced an educational video every year and weekly messages that are read — and sometimes sung — during the school’s announcements. The seventh- and eight-graders have encouraged other students to recycle lunch materials, ink cartridges and clothing, and have placed a recycling bin next to every garbage can in Larsen.

On Wednesday, Kush Patel showed off what Molley called the club’s “pride and joy,” the website it designed in 2012. Angitha Bright spoke briefly about the newsletter she started this school year, and Sarah Mogytch spoke about the club’s first booth at the Elgin Green Expo.

“People were impressed by what we had to offer because we are such a young age and we had a small group from a middle school,” Mogytch said. “To see other people’s accomplishments as well as ours was a good experience because we could see what else we could do in the future and how we could improve.”

70 percent need it

McCreight told students that 70 percent of the world’s population relies on used clothing, so with their donations to USAgain, “You’re not only helping the environment, you also are helping 70 percent of the world’s population have something nice to wear.”

Kaptain also shared his own plans with the students, including his vision to use the former Fox River Country Day School property to showcase “the natural area that exists within the city of Elgin.” That includes 60 acres of natural area along Route 25, north of I-90, featuring native plants and access to the Fox River, he said.

The mayor said he’d like to create an environmental education center there, something students such as the Green Team could visit on field trips during the school year and camps over the summer.