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CCSD students are learning that recycling is more than sorting trash

Charleston County School district (CCSD) students celebrate the Earth every day, not just on Earth Day.

Twelve CCSD schools recently received Recycling Education Grants from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). The $1,500 grants are available to schools to promote awareness of the need to reduce the solid waste generated and to recycle whenever possible. Students and educators are recycling today for a better tomorrow in CCSD. 

These grants align with Pillar Two (high-quality teachers and leaders), and Pillar Three (wrap-around services), two of the three Pillars that uphold the district’s mission of educating and supporting every child in achieving college, career, and citizenship readiness. 

Stefanie Vandiver, DHEC environmental manager who coordinates the grant program, said she was impressed with the applications they received.

“CCSD schools’ hard work is not only inspiring to other schools throughout the state but also boosts our recycling rates in South Carolina,” said Vandiver.

Welieides La Porte, a parent advocate at Pinehurst Elementary School will use their $1,500 grant as an example of CCSD’s pillar three: Wraparound Services to provide clothing racks, hangers, fabric paint, letter stencils, and reusable bags as supplies for their school-wide clothing swap. Families will be able to donate and shop for used clothing while also learning about how to be more sustainable at home, work, and school. 

Bree Jackson, Chicora Elementary School’s Physical Education teacher started a student club this year called the Chicora Changers. The group, another example of wraparound services supporting positive learning environments will do a Folly Beach cleanup/sweep along the shore with the South Carolina Aquarium this spring. 

Military Magnet Academy math teacher Simona Spinner will use a $1,500 grant to start recycling wood chips for the school’s new pollinator garden. Spinner explained that the pollinator garden is the next step in their outdoor garden. 

“We started our outdoor classroom three years ago, and not even the pandemic stopped us,” said Spinner. “This school year we are recycling wood chips to improve the soil for our future pollinator garden.” 

Danisha Nelson, human geography teacher at Burke High School, will use their grant to take her students on a field trip to Charleston County’s composting center in West Ashley. Following the field trip, students will have the hands-on experience of charting campus compost. 

“It will be interesting to see how much compost we gather from our school community in the upcoming months,” Nelson explained.

Paul Millar, a horticulture teacher at East Cooper Center For Advanced Studies will use the $1,500 to buy composting supplies for the school's horticulture class. The school's program plans to use the compost for their rooftop garden and greenhouse. The vegetables from the gardens will then be donated to their food pantry, which provides for underprivileged students. 

“The school is very eager to begin their project that will serve multiple purposes,” said Millar. “I am also very excited for my students to see the different types of composting systems available such as Bokashi composting bins which can create compost from food waste not traditionally composted such as dairy and meat.”