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‘Learners’ make a difference

  • Courtesy of St. Theresa School

    Phil Kleidosty, a St. Theresa School parent and business owner, is a “recycling regular” at the first Friday collection at the St. Theresa School campus in Kekaha.

  • Courtesy of St. Theresa School

    St. Theresa School students Kanoe Dusenberry and Emily Racpan work on removing caps from plastic bottles during the first Friday recycling collection at the school’s Kekaha campus.

KEKAHA — St. Theresa School learners demonstrate their part of being stewards of the community and planet by launching the school’s single-use-plastic-elimination initiative.

The initiative that recently added a recycling collection component on the first Friday of each month involves hands-on, daily work, but no one is complaining, said members of the school’s student council.

“The students started the campaign at the start of the year,” said St. Theresa School Principal Wendy Castillo. “As they became more involved with zero-plastic, they became more serious in approaching the recycling. They became more careful in weighing, and Phil Kleidosty, a school parent and business owner, donated a scale that the students use to get more precise weights.”

The students collaborated with the county to install trash-separation bins throughout the Kekaha campus.

“Now, trash-separation is a part of the students’ day,” said student council representatives including students in middle-school grades. “Learners are getting ideas on more ways to reduce what we send to our landfill.”

The recycling initiative overflows into the classroom, where students students in the seventh and eighth grades research where the recycled plastic ends up.

“The goal is not to just remove it from the island,” said Keli Kleidosty, the school’s science teacher. “We need to find out where it goes on Earth.”

Castillo is impressed with the growth of the recycling efforts.

“These kids are awesome,” she said. “They see the big picture and are empowered to create positive change. The seventh- and eighth-grade learners gave me a Hydroflask for Christmas because I was a repeat offender with the plastic water bottle. I haven’t used a plastic bottle since then. I’m scared of getting scolded.”

The recycling initiative added a community collection on the first Friday of the month.

“For the month of January, St. Theresa School brought in 353 pounds of recyclable glass, plastic and aluminum on its first Friday collection,” student council members said.

“For February, the goal was raised to 400 pounds, but we didn’t quite make it. For next month, the community is invited to join the effort when the collection takes place on the first Friday in March from 7 to 7:30 a.m. at the St. Theresa School campus. Recyclers can enter from ‘Elepaio Road behind the church, and please separate your recyclables and remove the caps before bringing it in.”

Castillo said money earned from the recycling goes to the student council fund that is used to make school improvements “deemed necessary by the learners.” Currently, one of the goals is the installation of new water fountains and bottle-refill stations on campus.

“This is 2020,” the principal said. “St. Theresa School is moving into the new decade with respect for the past and endless possibilities for the future. Thank you to all who choose STS as a place to learn and grow for their children. We are so proud of all they accomplish. St. Therea School is here. We are strong, and we are ready to make a difference.”

Josey Mattos, an eighth-grade student, said more recycling is necessary.

“We need to keep recycling,” he said. “We need to weigh what we bring in to track how our program is working. And we need to keep working with our school families to reduce our carbon footprint.”

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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