Helmers students show off sustainability skills

By Christina Cox

Last update: Friday, February 9th, 2018

Ryder Doremus, 5, eats his trash-free lunch as Koa Brown, 5, talks to him at Charles Helmers Elementary School on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. Schools were encouraged to bring lunches that eliminate trash as part of a competition. Nikolas SamuelsThe Signal

Charles Helmers Elementary students spent the week “showing the planet some love” by packing lunches with reusable containers and cloth napkins, and sorting lunchtime waste for recycling and composting.

The winning class that produced the most Trash Free Lunches won several prizes that included a science kit, reusable water bottles and reusable containers.

The weeklong class competition was part of the elementary school’s yearlong participation in the Grades of Green’s Trash Free Lunch Challenge.

Pipa Pycznski, 5, puts away her trash-free lunch at Charles Helmers Elementary School in Valencia on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. Schools were encouraged to bring lunches that eliminate trash as part of a competition. Nikolas SamuelsThe Signal

During the challenge, 22 Southern California schools, including three in the Saugus Union School District — Skyblue Mesa Elementary School and Emblem Academy also took part — compete against each other to see which one can reduce the most lunchtime waste.

“Grades of Green’s goal with our Trash Free Lunch Challenge is to help participating schools start lasting green programs to instill environmental and waste reduction habits that will stay with students for a lifetime,” said Allie Bussjaeger, director of regional programs at Grades of Green.

The seventh annual competition teaches students about environmental habits by encouraging them to eliminate lunchtime trash and teaching them how to sort waste.

Students also participate in educational assemblies, receive personalized eco-starter kits, implement waste reduction plans and work with Grades of Green Advisors.

Noah Ackerman, 5, decorates a heart he received for bringing a trash-free lunch to Charles Helmers Elementary School in Valencia on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. Schools were encouraged to bring lunches that eliminate trash as part of a competition. Nikolas SamuelsThe Signal

At Helmers, students created their own customized sorting stations to sort waste into compost, recycling and trash bins.

Sheri Budhu, a parent at the school, also helped Helmers form the school’s Green Team consisting of 15 fifth- and sixth-grade students. Together, this team supervises the school’s sorting stations and leads a rotating team of third- and fourth-grade volunteers who help during each lunch period.

During the yearlong competition, Grades of Green estimates that Helmers, along with other participating schools, will reduce more than 300 tons of trash.

At the end of the Trash Free Challenge, a panel of environmental experts plan to evaluate the implementation and success of the finalists’ trash-reduction programs.

The panel will then choose one winning school in the elementary school division and middle school division that will each receive a $1,000 grant to continue its sustainability efforts.

ccox@signalscv.com
661-287-5575
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

About the author

Christina Cox

Christina Cox

Christina Cox is a multimedia journalist covering education, community and breaking news in the Santa Clarita Valley. She joined The Signal as a staff writer in August 2016.

Ryder Doremus, 5, eats his trash-free lunch as Koa Brown, 5, talks to him at Charles Helmers Elementary School on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. Schools were encouraged to bring lunches that eliminate trash as part of a competition. Nikolas SamuelsThe Signal

Helmers students show off sustainability skills

Charles Helmers Elementary students spent the week “showing the planet some love” by packing lunches with reusable containers and cloth napkins, and sorting lunchtime waste for recycling and composting.

The winning class that produced the most Trash Free Lunches won several prizes that included a science kit, reusable water bottles and reusable containers.

The weeklong class competition was part of the elementary school’s yearlong participation in the Grades of Green’s Trash Free Lunch Challenge.

Pipa Pycznski, 5, puts away her trash-free lunch at Charles Helmers Elementary School in Valencia on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. Schools were encouraged to bring lunches that eliminate trash as part of a competition. Nikolas SamuelsThe Signal

During the challenge, 22 Southern California schools, including three in the Saugus Union School District — Skyblue Mesa Elementary School and Emblem Academy also took part — compete against each other to see which one can reduce the most lunchtime waste.

“Grades of Green’s goal with our Trash Free Lunch Challenge is to help participating schools start lasting green programs to instill environmental and waste reduction habits that will stay with students for a lifetime,” said Allie Bussjaeger, director of regional programs at Grades of Green.

The seventh annual competition teaches students about environmental habits by encouraging them to eliminate lunchtime trash and teaching them how to sort waste.

Students also participate in educational assemblies, receive personalized eco-starter kits, implement waste reduction plans and work with Grades of Green Advisors.

Noah Ackerman, 5, decorates a heart he received for bringing a trash-free lunch to Charles Helmers Elementary School in Valencia on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. Schools were encouraged to bring lunches that eliminate trash as part of a competition. Nikolas SamuelsThe Signal

At Helmers, students created their own customized sorting stations to sort waste into compost, recycling and trash bins.

Sheri Budhu, a parent at the school, also helped Helmers form the school’s Green Team consisting of 15 fifth- and sixth-grade students. Together, this team supervises the school’s sorting stations and leads a rotating team of third- and fourth-grade volunteers who help during each lunch period.

During the yearlong competition, Grades of Green estimates that Helmers, along with other participating schools, will reduce more than 300 tons of trash.

At the end of the Trash Free Challenge, a panel of environmental experts plan to evaluate the implementation and success of the finalists’ trash-reduction programs.

The panel will then choose one winning school in the elementary school division and middle school division that will each receive a $1,000 grant to continue its sustainability efforts.

ccox@signalscv.com
661-287-5575
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

About the author

Christina Cox

Christina Cox

Christina Cox is a multimedia journalist covering education, community and breaking news in the Santa Clarita Valley. She joined The Signal as a staff writer in August 2016.