Saucon Valley Middle School
This month we travel to Hellertown, PA to talk with Robert Kachmar of Saucon Valley Middle School. In 2011, Mr. Kachmar applied for the Recycle Rally program in an effort to expand the school’s recycling. We are thrilled to offer Mr. Kachmar the chance to share Saucon Valley’s recycling journey with the rest of the Recycle Rally community!
Since you began recycling as a school project 10 years ago, what has changed?
“While our recycling project continues today, our focus then was only on paper.”
How has your program changed over the years ?
“The Recycle Rally got us to start recycling water and Gatorade bottles and juice cans at lunch, with student volunteers scanning individual containers at the end of their lunchtime. This proved overwhelming, and it was an even bigger challenge encouraging kids to bring in their recycling from home.”
How have you been affected by the evolution of the Recycle Rally program?
“As the program got easier to manage with scanning weights instead of individual cans, our kids kept recycling during lunch, with our custodian weighing the bags before putting them out in the dumpster. We were surprised to find ourselves in 15th place nationally from this effort alone last year.”
Congratulations! That must have been very inspiring for you all. Did you make changes to your program as a result?
“That success inspired us to increase our efforts this year as we sought to be a top 10 school. When students started bringing in more and more from home, we realized we had a shot at a top spot. We were happy to learn that most students already recycled at home. The hardest part has been keeping the momentum going for students to bring their home recycling to school.”
Bringing in recycling from home is a big part of the program. How did you keep your recycling team motivated and in touch with your recycling goals?
“To encourage students to bring in recyclables from home, we started by holding a three-week contest between our eighth grade teams, with the winning team awarded a “no homework” prize for a weekend as well as having “recess” which they haven’t had since elementary school. We updated a giant bar graph on a bulletin board every day to chart the progress.”
What are your goals for your program?
“So far, we’ve used our points to buy Apple TV’s to allow us to hook up student iPads wirelessly to a class projector to share work. Our goal is to be one of the top three schools in our bracket, with the money received from prizes going towards creating an Environmental Education Center at our campus that would benefit all grade levels.”
The bar graph photo is off the charts! What kind of impact did the graph have?
“Our goal of 1,200 containers per team was surpassed quickly causing the bar graph to continue onto the ceiling. This only spurred the teams to bring in more recycling to see how far they could make the graph go. This contest alone brought in over 10,000 containers! Since then, we’ve expanded the team competitions into the other grade levels with limited success.”
It is wonderful to see the evolution. How else have you promoted recycling at Saucon Valley?
“Over the years we have made a number of TV commercials for our morning announcements advertising the contest, including a parody of Snoop Dogg’s “Drop it like it’s Hot” called “Drop it in the Box.” We email students about our progress and have shared a progress bar with them as a Google doc that they can check regularly.”
It sounds as though it has all been a valuable experience!
“When students that normally don’t participate in other school activities proudly bring in a bottle or can from home, it makes it all worthwhile.”
Special thanks to Mr. Kachmar and Saucon Valley Middle School for their continued commitment to recycling. Keep up the good work!
Calling all Teachers
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