By RANDLE CHRISTIAN
Paper, cans and even glass
Really make some nasty trash
If you sort them every day
You have found a better way
To recycle, recycle, recycle
That’s the message St. Joseph’s rapping, bopping second-graders, under the inspired direction of fine arts teacher Lorraine Glandon, delivered at a recent school assembly on the environment.
Through skits, poems and biblical readings, each grade took a turn sharing the lessons they’ve learned this year about preserving the Earth through the School Recycling Assistance Program.
St. Joseph was one of six schools from Richland and Lexington counties and the city of Columbia chosen to participate in this year’s SCRAP program. The program encourages members of school communities to work together to reduce school waste and recycle rather than toss out reusable items.
In the process, students learned the importance of stewardship, said Nell Keenan, the fourth-grade teacher who helped the school get started. “God put us here to take care of the creatures and the Earth,” Keenan said. “The program really fit in with our religious beliefs.”
Participating schools had to complete at least one recycling and one waste-reduction activity suggested by the SCRAP program in order to earn an Earth flag. That was no problem for St. Joseph, said program director Jane Hiller at the assembly. “I think St. Joseph did the whole list.”
Students collected six-pack rings and hung them on a tree in the main hallway, safely out of reach of the wildlife they often harm and kill. They also collected and recycled crayons and paper.
And they learned how to do without. On no-paper day, they wrote on slates or on their desks — using washable markers. On no-waste lunch day, students left their Lunchables, juice boxes and brown paper bags at home, sparing the local landfill 45 pounds of garbage.
As she presented the Earth flag to the school, Hiller said she hoped it would serve as inspiration to students to continue conservation efforts. “Today is not the end,” she said. “This is the first day of forever in taking care of this planet that God has given you.”
Hiller credited principal Sister Christina Murphy with providing the leadership to make the program a success. “A good school begins with a good principal. Teamwork is very evident in this school today,” she said. She called Keenan, a first-year teacher, “one of the heroes of the environment” for being the energy force behind the program.
“Seeing what each person did to protect our outside world was an enriching and exciting experience,” Sister Christina said. “It encourages us to see what our responsibility is.”
As they learn to be good stewards, St. Joseph students are following the counsel of Pope John
Paul II in his encyclical letter, The Gospel of Life. “As one called to till and look after the garden of the world (cf. Genesis 2:15), man has a specific responsibility towards the environment in which he lives, towards the creation which God has put at the service of his personal dignity, of his life, not only for the present, but also for future generations.”