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Recycling paying off in Houghton-PT

October 16, 2012
By GARRETT NEESE - DMG writer (gneese@mininggazette.com) , The Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - Compared with tossing something in the trash, sorting to see what can be recycled is more time-consuming.

But it's also more rewarding, two teachers said at the Houghton-Portage township Schools Board of Education meeting Monday night.

Science teachers Lauri Davis and Tony Schwaller told the board about their ongoing recycling programs.

Article Photos

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Houghton High School science teacher Lauri Davis talks about the bottle and paper recycling program at Monday’s Houghton-Portage Township Schools Board of Education meeting.

Davis began the bottle recycling program seven years ago, frustrated by seeing students throw away pop bottles. She estimates they turn in 5,000 to 7,5000 bottles a year - about 300 to 500 pounds.

Originally done through the National Honor Society, the sorting is now done by student volunteers - and "not-so-volunteers" from detention.

"It deters them from ever doing anything," Davis said.

Students also sort out things that can be returned for a deposit, Davis said. The proceeds - anywhere from $50 to $125, get fed back into the program or donated. This year, the prom committee will get the bottles, which they will return themselves.

Schwaller began collecting paper eight years ago. Copper Country Mental Health then picks up the paper. While it once went to Escanaba to be turned into toilet paper, it now goes to the Goodwill recycling center near the Houghton County Memorial Airport, where it is shredded. Schwaller said they usually get about 4,000 to 5,000 pounds of paper a year.

All high school teachers have separate boxes outside their rooms for paper and bottles, Davis said. They will sort out things such as glass, and will also take things Waste Management will recycle, such as science catalogs or boxboards.

"We mainly do it because we can't stand not doing it," she said.

"We're nerds," Schwaller added.

Schwaller said they're part of a group of numerous teachers at Houghton who are going above and beyond their jobs.

"They may not be able to be seen," he said. "They're not doing it for recognition. ... They're just doing it because it's the right thing to do."

Between the two of them, they teach every ninth-grader that comes through the school, Davis said.

"At the end of the school year, when we're doing finals, and the kids say 'Do we need to keep any of this stuff?', you'd be surprised how many recycle," she said. "You end up filling up your box, and you've got to go find another box."

In other action, the board:

approved hiring Erik Johnson as the Young 5s kindergarten teacher and Tiffany Scullion as the Good Will Farm teacher.

approved the 2012-13 Title I Parent Involvement Plan and Family and School Compact.

heard an update from superintendent Doreen Klingbeil on curriculum, technology and facility planning. Klingbeil said the district will work on a plan for what resources, such as textbooks, need to be updated. Part of the discussion will also be whether, or to what degree, to move to e-books. As part of the discussion, Klingbeil will visit with districts such as the Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium & Keweenaw, which gives its students iPads.

heard an update from elementary school principal Patrick Aldrich. The Parent-Teacher Organization sponsored a carnival, which went well. Students are finishing up the Michigan Educational Assessment Practices. K-12 students will go through a fire prevention presentation on Oct. 23. The elementary book fair begins in two weeks. Title I parent night is on Nov. 6.

heard an update from high school principal Julie Filpus. The freshman English teacher is trying to a launch a writing center for the high school students. A retired teacher and an Americorps member have expressed interest in running it, and advanced placement English students may be trained as coaches. The drama club's production of "Berkeley Square" last weekend was well-received. Copper Bowl activities are occurring this week, starting with Monday's Ugly Sweater Day.

 
 

 

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