CHURCH HILL — Volunteer High School in Hawkins County was one of two schools in the area named recently among the top 10 environmentally friendly schools in Tennessee as part of the 2012 Good Sports Always Recycle statewide school challenge.
Both VHS and Washington Elementary received a $1,000 award to enhance their environmental efforts.
Washington Elementary is also located in Hawkins County but is in the Kingsport school system.
“It is remarkable to see the exceptional environmental programs that schools across our state have put into place,” said Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Robert Martineau. “These schools serve as role models for other communities as we strive toward a more sustainable Tennessee. Together, we can have a positive impact on our environment and help educate the next generation on the importance of environmental stewardship.”
Faculty and students at VHS recognized in 2009 the need to recycle schoolwide.
Three years later, Volunteer recycles in 98 percent of the classrooms and workrooms throughout the school, including the cafeteria.
The school recycled about 9 tons in its first year of recycling, and it recycled 21.5 tons of material during the 2011-12 school year.
The school also recycles waste from sporting events and general cleanup on the school grounds.
The school’s efforts are focused on minimizing the waste that goes into the nearby Carters Valley landfill.
Materials recycled at Volunteer include paper such as magazines, newspaper and cardstock — as well as aluminum, steel, metal, cardboard, textbooks and workbooks, plastic, phonebooks and cell phones.
Students are involved in nearly every aspect of the school’s environmental and recycling efforts.
They do everything but drive the recycled items to the local recycling center, including picking up, sorting and loading the truck.
Money that the school receives for its recycling efforts is used for a variety of on-campus expenses including gasoline, replacing recycling bins, other projects led by the campus environmental team, and incentives such as local trips or hiking for students who participate.
Over the past 19 years, the Good Sports Always Recycle program has awarded more than $100,000 to Tennessee schools for their recycling, environmental and sustainability efforts.
The competition judges schools on the community impact of their environmental program, their new and unique approaches to recycling and waste reduction, their overall environmental efforts, and the investments they have made and will continue to make in an environmental program.