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In the past, no real recycling program existed at Barranca Mesa Elementary School. This all changed, however, when the students took control of the recycling operations. The Spirit Club, which currently includes fourth-graders, has not only taken control of recycling at the school but made it a success. Twenty-five gallons of materials were recycled a week last year at the elementary school; this year, the load increased to more than 200 gallons a week. This year, the Spirit Group includes fourth-graders Alex Csanadi, Coleman Kendrisk, Joey Ladino, Becky Cai, Devon McCleskey and Max Herrmann.Csanadi explained runners-up for student council make up the club. “That’s how we all got in,” he said. Students do receive some guidance from teachers. Fourth-grade teacher and co-sponsor of Spirit Club Gwen Warniment explained she and fellow club sponsor Anne Gann-Everett both came from schools that did have recycling programs. And Barranca Mesa Elementary seemed eager to have recycling. “The kids were really ready for something like that,” she said. Kendrisk added that the club distributed cardboard boxes to teachers to collect recyclable materials. They did more than just hand out boxes. Cai said they successfully encouraged the cafeteria staff to serve hot lunches on recyclable trays rather than on Styrofoam ones. Additionally, McCleskey said, a few plastic blue bins were donated to the recycling effort “because we were really recycling a lot more.”The club is not only taking action but it’s also educating. Herrmann said they present lessons to their peers about recycling. During a lesson, students select different pieces of trash and determine whether or not they can be recycled. To help them make the right choice, club members read a book about garbage and how it is disposed of. To further help students make the right choice about what is and is not recyclable, a poster was created, identifying what can be deposited into the bins. Last year, students wrote and performed a skit about recycling.McCleskey said students are really getting into the program. He said their peers are always asking what they can recycle. Warniment said she was impressed with club members’ work. “They’re wonderful. I think they’ve really proven their leadership. Their enthusiasm is infectious.” Now, they want the rest of the district on the bandwagon. “We used to not recycle too much, (and) now that we recycle ee (we) get to save reusable resources ee we can’t do this on our own, we need to help from other people,” Ladino said. Therefore, Csanadi said they are challenging other schools in the district to also recycle.