DMS Recycling Continues to Engage Students

DMS Recycling Program to Continue Even as Contest Closes
Posted on 11/07/2019
This is the image for the news article titled DMS Recycling Program to Continue Even as Contest ClosesDresden Middle School has won awards for their student-run recycling program. And, even though the Recycle Bowl is no longer a statewide school competition, teacher Jody Hatler and the sixth through eighth graders who form the recycling team are still dedicated to the task.

The team secured last year’s top spot in the competition that celebrated collecting the most paper and cardboard for a single month. While they have yet to reach the winning 4,610 pounds again this year, they have come close to the 3,000-pounds mark as they arrive early each day, collect, sort, and store the recyclables.

Hatler thinks rural areas are seeing a decline in recycling and points to Dresden’s new waste management contract as an example of the difficulty in funding a recycling program. She praises the Weakley County Litter Program for their partnership with the young team as they transport the materials collected each month to the University of Tennessee at Martin’s recycling center for weighing and disposal.

The 16-member squad is proud of their process and their ingenuity. Each morning they check the red recycle bins that have been placed in the classrooms. Using “Big Lengthy,” cafeteria carts they’ve secured to one another to form a train for the bags of paper, cardboard, and outdated textbooks, they then transport the materials to a trailer outside.

The first month of school they collected 553 pounds of paper, 2,870 pounds of books, and 157 pounds of cardboard.

The team has grown to 16 members, noted Hatler, with several students participating who don’t get involved in other clubs and activities. She credits the previous success and a growing awareness as among the reasons. She also gives Dresden “bucks” for use in the on-school store.

“Because this is work they are doing,” she explained.

Among their points of pride is the newly restored weight room. They had been using the space for storage until the trailer arrived. When it did, that meant the room had to be cleaned out.

“It took us a month to clean out the weight room!” exclaimed Kayle McDaniel. “Stuff was piled all the way to the ceiling.”

Team Captain Maki Barnes ensures that the group stays on task. “I want to make sure it’s worth it at the end of the day,” he said at a recent potluck breakfast celebration of what they have accomplished thus far this year.
Sorting through trash has made the members more aware of their own trash production and how they can better recycle at home.

Barnes said his family now uses recycling bins and that he is glad because it means less trash to “risk the life of animals in oceans and lakes.” Shannon Sawyer said he and his father started picking up cans a few years ago and, even when visiting friends, encourages them to use the bed of the truck for can disposal. McDaniel says she is more likely to look to recycled objects for projects such as the hut she made for her hamster out of a plastic container.

In December, Hatler says the school will feature Santa’s STEM Workshop and use bottle caps, cardboard, old CDs and other items to make Christmas gifts.

While many of the students admit that their original reasons for joining the team were rather self-centered – they were eager to get out of the classroom setting – they now enjoy throwing the trash away.

“Now it’s fun,” declared McDaniel.

16 members of the recycling team
The 16 members of the Dresden Middle School Recycling Team joined sponsor Jody Hatler in a group shot with Big Lengthy, the collection of carts they tape together to form a train for their regular recycling collection from each classroom. From left to right top row: Jody Hatler, Maki Barnes, Haley Murphy, Ashton Dick, Luke DiPietro, Shannon Sawyer, Amare Curtis, Kayle McDaniel, Christy Harville, Jada Buntin, Hannah White; bottom row: Alyssa Cunningham, Mason Smothers, Grant Randolph, Grant Turner, Zoie Olmsted, and Seth Peterson.

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