Forest Grove Elementary is once again the winner of the Return-It School Contest.
The school, which also won the contest in 2020-21, raised $16,010.90 from July 2021 to February 2022.
“It’s crazy that we won that contest again,” said principal Mark Doolan.
The elementary’s recycling program has been ongoing for nearly 20 years. The number of beverage containers collected this year totalled 173,540.
The money raised, along with a $5,000 cash prize for winning the contest, will go into the school’s coffers. Over the years the funds have contributed to safe outdoor playground equipment, an indoor climbing wall, two 20-foot storage cans for recyclable beverage containers, a fitness trail and laptops and projectors.
“It’s nice how it balances it out and creates equity,” said Jess Drennan, the treasurer of the Community and Parent Advisory Council (CPAC), who volunteered for the school’s recycling program.
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The recycling program is run out of the school parking lot year-round. Volunteers, such as students and CPAC members, pick up beverage containers from the dump and two bins at school and sort them daily.
“The people who live locally have to pick up from the dump every day, and then we do at least one bottle drive a year, but truly, it’s kind of within our CPAC numbers that keep the program running in the summers,” Drennan said.
Funds from this year have gone toward a daily breakfast program, monthly hot lunches, student planners, 20 classroom tablets, a new swing set, extra teacher start-up costs, grad hoodies and calculators, a guided reading program, class photos for each child, yoga mats, picnic tables and appreciation gifts for staff.
“It really ramps up like it doubles (in summer),” she said, adding they collect about $5,000 in recycling in the summer months.
Drennan said she was shocked they won, expecting to finish in second place after raising $7,000 less than last year. She added it was remarkable.
“I think we probably do triple the amount of any of the other schools so (I’m) kind of proud of our little school of 95 students, too.”
Drennan said CPAC plans to continue running the recycling program for the foreseeable future as it is one of the school’s highest revenue makers. Donations can be dropped off at boxes at the local dump and in the school parking lot.