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Hudson students learning lessons in saving planet through composting

Enhanced recycling program helping decrease carbon footprint

by Tim Troglen | reporter Published: February 26, 2014 12:00 AM
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Hudson -- Math and English are not the only subjects district students excel in.

Through a combined effort to reduce the carbon footprint left by Hudson students, almost 99 tons of lunchtime refuse has been kept from landfills this school year.

The effort has stretched from elementary to high school students.

According to figures from ReWorks, formerly the Summit/Akron Solid Waste Management Authority, Hudson students have kept 194,511 pounds of food scraps from being placed in landfills since the program's inception.

This is the third year students at Ellsworth Hill have taken place in the composting program.

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"Composting actually fits into our science curriculum," Principal Jen Filomena said. "There is an entire unit dedicated to soil including the study of earthworms and composting."

Filomena's second-grade students have composted 34,297 pounds of refuse.

As part of the unit, students make their own plastic zippered bag of compost material and observe it over several weeks, noting the changes in the food as well as the soil, according to Filomena.

"Many of our teachers typically kick-off the year with that unit and that really gets the kids interested in composting during lunch time," Filomena added.

The students separate their lunch items into containers for composting materials, recyclable material and trash.

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It was not difficult showing the younger students how the process works and what needed to be done, Filomena said.

"Because students study soil and composting on a small scale during a second-grade science unit, it gets them interested in helping Mother Earth by composting and recycling," Filomena added.

And while it is the students who fill up the majority of the containers, Filomena said the school's composting is a "huge collaborative effort."

"This program would not be possible without the dedicated efforts of our kitchen staff, our lunch aides, our custodial team, our parent volunteers, our teachers and our kids," she added.

East Woods is in its first year of the program, according to Principal Paul Milcetich.

Milcetich's fourth- and fifth-grade students have composted 18,591 pounds of refuse.

Milcetich, a former unit principal at Hudson High School, helped bring the plan to East Woods by incorporating elements of both the middle and high school composting programs. Milcetich was on the 2012-13 team which helped implement the program at the high school.

"It was such a success in the sheer volume of trash that was kept out of landfills that I knew we would implement composting at East Woods once I became the principal," Milcetich added. "East Woods Assistant Principal Jeff Morris, along with Head Custodian Rick Scott have led the efforts of the initial training and oversight of composting, working closely with the staff from ReWorks and our lunch monitors."

Composting also helped reduce waste in other areas, Milcetich said. The school has reduced the daily number of garbage bags used at lunch from 32 to eight, a 75 percent reduction, he added.

"We are very appreciative of this composting service provided free of charge to Hudson by ReWorks," Milcetich said. "I am proud of the efforts of our East Woods team, (custodians, lunch aides, parent volunteers, and students) and really enjoy touting this type of success in addition to academic achievement."

The program also continues at the high school level, according to Principal Brian Wilch.

Wilch's students have composted 70,534 pounds, which is just behind the 71,089 pounds of refuse composted by middle school students.

"We began the program for not only environmental reasons but because the middle School was having great success with their program," Wilch said. "We were thinking that our incoming freshmen already knew the drill so it was timely to begin then."

Wilch called it a "challenge to train our teens to sort/scrape/compost."

"Heck, it's a challenge for my wife and I at home to get our kids to help out and not run food scraps down the disposal -- and we have dogs," Wilch said.

The process is the same as at the other schools, Wilch said.

Wilch estimated about 1,600 lunches are eaten at the high school on a daily basis.

"If we can put a dent in what goes to the landfills by composting/recycling, we're doing our part," Wilch said. "Plus, we're educating our young adults on the importance of being good stewards of Mother Earth as they make decisions every day that impact their environment --for many, it's become a habit; that's the ultimate goal."

Email: ttroglen@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9435

Facebook: TimTroglenRPC

Twitter: @Trog_RPC

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