Saugus schools succeed in Trash Free Lunch competition

Saugus Union School District office. Dan Watson/The Signal

Two elementary schools in the Saugus Union School District showed off their recycling and sustainability skills during the sixth annual Grades of Green Trash Free Lunch Challenge.

In their first year participating, Northpark Elementary School received an award for “Best Student Leadership” and Bridgeport Elementary School was named one of three finalists in the elementary division.

If Bridgeport wins the challenge, the school will be awarded a $1,000 science grant.

During the Grades of Green Trash Free Lunch Challenge schools throughout Southern California compete to see who can reduce the most lunchtime waste.

Students at Northpark Elementary School and Bridgeport Elementary School participated in the sixth annual Grades of Green Trash Free Challenge.

“The mission of the organization is to instill environmental protection into young minds,” Vickie Wippel, public relations manager for Grades of Green, told The Signal in October.  “Every school that participates in the program and adopts the principles we teach does well.”

This year, 25 schools competed in the competition and learned environmental values, how to sort waste for recycling and how to eliminate waste by packing lunches with containers, reusable water bottles, utensils and cloth napkins.

Northpark Elementary School Principal Sandra Brunet said her student Grades of Green team submitted a well-written and thought-out application, and created public service announcement (PSA) videos encouraging their community to reduce waste.

“They filmed a number of public service announcements that were in our parent bulletins and in weekly announcements to students,” Brunet said.  “It was all a student-led program here and I think that’s what differentiated our program.”

Members of the student leader team at Northpark included: Jordyn Marti, Jackson Spencer, Marcus Grider, Michaela Medel, Mylie Kwock , Kelvin Cai, Regina Lee, Brooklyn Cohen , Abigail Montoya and Matthew Jensen.

The students at Northpark also reduced their lunchtime waste by more than half, from 16 trash bags to 6 trash bags, and replaced one of their large trash bins with a recycling bin.

“The initial push was a trash free Tuesday and having one day that is completely trash free… but what we did was have those trash free days several days of the week,” Brunet said.

Bridgeport Elementary School chose to participate in the Trash Free Lunch challenge after a group of students expressed interest in creating an environmental club, called the Green Team, to pick up trash and keep the campus clean.

Karen Harvey, assistant principal for Bridgeport Elementary, said the school’s goal was to make the campus more environmentally friendly.

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