Reagan recycling program takes in the community

With the vision of second-grade bilingual teacher Anise Forsyth, Reagan Magnet Elementary has developed a campus wide recycling program that has extended out to the community.
Other campuses in Ector County Independent School Districts have programs, as well.
Forsyth started with her classroom and drew from resources such as Keep Odessa Beautiful, Recycle Across America, Take Care of Texas, PepsiCo Recycle Rally and the City of Odessa, the Time Machine recycling center, among others.
From her classroom, the initiative has gradually spread throughout the campus and community.
“I decided to buy my own bins. At first, I didn’t have any funding. I went to the Dollar Store and bought bins and then I actually wrote a DonorsChoose grant, which is a place where teachers can write grants to get things. I got some bigger bins. I have a worm farm, compost,” and starter plants, Forsyth said.
The City of Odessa lent the school a big green bin that Forsyth has dubbed the Jolly Green Giant. She said it has been filled up eight times this year.
“Once I opened it up to Facebook, it increased substantially. It has to be gradual because people have to learn to recycle right. They have to learn that it’s got to be dry, it’s got to be clean and it’s got to be No. 1 and No. 2 plastic in the City of Odessa because that’s the only kind of plastic they recycle,” Forsyth said.
She added that she hopes to make the recycling program continuous.
“I think it helps them understand that they need to be stewards of the Earth,” Forsyth said. “… They’re the ones that are going to be our legacy. They’re going to be the ones left to take care of our natural resources.”
Throughout the journey, Forsyth said the students have taught her a lot.
“There’s no way I could have done this without them. They’re going home and explaining to their parents all about it and teaching their parents how to be stewards of the Earth,” she said.
For her efforts, Forsyth received a Recycling Ambassador award from Keep Odessa Beautiful.
She’s also planning to advocate for curbside recycling at the City Council.
“I was surprised by the award,” she said. “I couldn’t have done this without the help of the whole community, including our principal, Mr. (Wayne) Squiers, (Assistant Principal) Mr. (Randall) Anderson and the support of the teachers and the staff. The custodians are very critical in helping us, and all the students and their parents. It needs to be something that begins from the ground up.”
Aaron Arellano, a 7-year-old second-grader, said recycling is cool because you have to sort things. He also likes it because it helps animals who can get sick from eating plastic.
“We’re all going to end up extinct like the dinosaurs if we don’t re-use things,” Arellano said.
Eight-year-old second-grader Alisson Quinonez said recycling helps the Earth, soil and animals “so they don’t die.”
“You recycle and you make your Earth prettier,” Quinonez said.
Assistant Principal Randall Anderson said he’s noticed that the importance of recycling is rubbing off on the students.
“We have a green team. The kids go out there and recycle bottles, paper, plastics and so the kids are really understanding the importance of recycling,” Anderson said.
He said it teaches the students responsibility and organizational skills.
“We have the bins outside of each classroom and you can see how the kids are organizing the milk jugs, the paper, the plastic. Then on Fridays, two representatives from each class will take those to a central location,” Anderson said.
“We did something for Earth Day, as well, and so these kids are real cognizant of recycling. I’ve heard kids outside, ‘Oh you need to recycle that.’ You’re seeing the change, so hopefully she continues it for years to come,” he added.