COVINGTON - At the Montessori School of Covington, students don't just learn about the environment - they take an active role in saving it.
Thanks to the efforts of staff and students to be good environmental stewards, the school has won first place in the Waste Reduction Category for schools in the Keep Georgia Beautiful 2008 Awards Program.
How did they do it? It all started during an Earth Day celebration in 2002.
"We were working with children on Earth Day and talking about how we need to save our Earth and take care of what we have, and through that, three of our teachers decided to do it year round instead of just one day of the year," said Montessori School Director Jane Moon.
The school's early childhood program for children ages 3 to 6 initiated a recycling program. Recycling bins are now in every classroom, with students gathering materials from the bins each Friday and taking them to the recycling center in the school's main hallway for sorting.
In addition, students are the caretakers for the school's organic garden, where they use the waste-reducing practice of composting.
The school has also attempted to reduce lunchroom waste by asking parents to pack lunches in reusable materials and by serving lunches on china and using glasses and silverware rather than paper or plastic plates and utensils.
For the students, it's more fun than hassle.
"They love doing it," Moon said. "In fact, they take what they learn at school and take that home with them. Some of the families have implemented recycling because of what we're doing at school."
Keep Covington-Newton Beautiful, the local affiliate for Keep Georgia Beautiful, nominated the Montessori School for the state award.
"We have worked with them with the recycling program and know they have a very good recycling program at their school and they are also involved with other waste reduction and conservation efforts," said KCNB Program Education Specialist Laurie Riley.
"We were just really excited and honored to even be nominated for the award," Moon said.
The school has approximately 100 students in pre-kindergarten through the eighth grade.
In related news, KCNB has also been awarded a third place award certificate of distinguished service award in the local affiliate category.
Representatives from both KCNB and the Montessori School will pick up the awards at a ceremony at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta on Oct. 23.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.