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Woodland Heights Elementary Green Team Breaks Records

Article by: Sara Musgrove

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make” (Jane Goodall). In 2008, Woodland Heights Elementary First-grade students Jordan Roberts and Madi Perry created the “Green Team” to recycle products. Throughout that school year, the dozen team members collected approximately 2,000 pounds of paper and plastic. Since then, the Green Team has continued to grow, expanding its membership and its collection load. At the end of the 2022-23 school year, the team collected 117,268 pounds of recyclable material.

“The original team developed an application process, complete with a job-like application and essay questions, along with three references that must be obtained attesting to a strong, solid character,” said Kimber Bennett, the Green Team sponsor and Woodland Heights Counselor. “The team has undergone a couple of changes. All our elementary schools moved from being Pre-Kindergarten through Third-grade campuses to Pre-Kindergarten through Fifth-grade campuses. With two additional grades on campus, the additional students wanted to continue participation on the Green Team. The Third-grade team of 2021-2022 met and discussed the options, voted to keep the recycling team with the Third grade, and added additional teams. The additional teams included Reading Buddies (reading to our Pre-K and Kindergarten students), Kindness Club (students performing acts of kindness at school and in our community), and Photography (photos taken by the students that were used in class lessons, social media posts, and the yearbook). The Green Team theme expanded to ‘Recycling ~ Reading ~ Reaching Out’.”

With this expanded team, more students grew passionate about the Green Team projects. “The teams met on Fridays to gather and sort recycling, read to their littles, perform acts of kindness, and take photos,” Bennett said. “The recycling team met on Tuesday mornings to load the recycling trailer, with several former members assisting with the loading. The teams rotated each six-to-seven weeks so everyone would have the opportunity to serve on each team twice during the year. It allowed for the team members to learn and apply leadership skills, work as a team, how to problem solve and resolve conflicts, and apply those skills to each of the teams as they rotated throughout the year.”

Since the team’s creation in 2008, each year’s team sets a goal for their collection rate, in pounds of material they collect. Between 2008 and 2016, they collected an average of 3,000 pounds each year. In 2016, their collection goals increased exponentially and have continued expanding every year.

2016 – 2017  61,789 pounds
2017 – 2018  48,357 pounds
2018 – 2019  50,657 pounds
2019 – 2020  50,014 pounds
2020 – 2021  54,506 pounds
2021 – 2022  75,225 pounds
2022 – 2023  117,268 pounds

Many local individuals and businesses participated in recyclable donations, such as Chick-fil-A (Bridget and Jonathan Jones), Howard Payne University (Dr. Wendy McNeely), BISD (Stan Pachall and all the campuses that donated), Kristi Owen, Painter and Johnson, Gate One Motor Inn (Mr. Prabhu), Landmark Life, BISD Environmental Science Class (Scott Swanzy), Honey Bee Natural Foods (Carrol Wells), The Petal Patch (Glacia Stalup and Melody Griffith), and all the parents and community members who filled the trailer each week.

As the 2023-24 school year begins to wind up, the Green Team continues to plan for the future. The recycling trailer will be on the Woodland Heights campus beginning August 22nd, on Mondays from 4:00 PM through Tuesdays at 4:00 PM. The trailer is located on Third Street, behind the cafeteria. Items that can be recycled include: #1 plastics such as water bottles (drained, no lids), cardboard, white office paper (bagged and tied), magazines and catalogs, shredded paper (bagged and tied), metal cans, aluminum cans, and newspaper.

To participate on Green Team, students must fill out an interest survey and commit to their teams throughout the school year, and then fill out a follow-up survey to allow them to share their lessons learned. Students collected a record amount of recyclable material in 2022-23, as well as countless positive life experiences. “Thousands of photos were taken showing school life,” Bennett said. “Thousands of books were read to the littles, and a thousand acts of kindness were performed.”

2022-23 Green Team - Loading 100,000th Pound of Recycling

Above: 2022-203 Green Team - Loading of the 100,000th pound!


2022-23 Green Team'

Above: 2022-2023 Woodland Heights Green Team


2021-2022 Green Team

Above: 2021-2022 Woodland Heights Green Team