Soldiers for the Environment


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For fourth-grade Riverside Elementary West student Ashlynn McNally, the frontline is at home - and hers is a different kind of war.

"I tell my parents to recycle," she said. "Sometimes I have to remind them because they get mixed up and forget and put recyclables in with the garbage."

But the recycling soldier reminds them.

As does Isabella McKeefery, fellow Riverside West student and platoon-mate.

"Sometimes I have to remind my parents," McKeefery said. "We recycle yogurt containers and milk jugs."

Jessica Frie and her family take recycling one step further, actually finding second uses around the home.

"My dad and I take old cans and clean them up really good," she said. "We use them to mix paint and keep our paint brushes in."

Frie, McKeefery and McNally are just a few Riverside West students who are soldiering on as stewards of the environment.

Their efforts, collectively, have earned the school its second consecutive Recycle-Bowl championship. The national competition is fierce, as schools try to out-recycle each other. According to Riverside West principal Paul Brennan, 1,500 schools were involved this year.

"I can honestly say that the students here are serious about waste reduction and recycling," said Brennan. "Their energy and passion is key to our sustainability."

Brennan added that the student enthusiasm doesn't stop when the school day ends.

"One of the biggest compliments is when a parent is yelling me at a PTA meeting that their kid keeps scolding them for throwing a can or bottle in the regular trash at home."

According to Brennan, his students really are soldiers for the environment.

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