There’s a trend sweeping over Melrose Middle School… and no, it’s not the likes of the latest Disney channel movie. These middle schoolers are super excited about their new bottle filling stations.
The Green Team, an after-school club at the school designed for those interested in environmental issues, has accomplished quite the feat. At the young age of twelve, this group of students installed a bottle filling station in their school, saving 10,659 plastic bottles this year alone.
We spoke with Jessie Schmitt, Solid Waste and Recycling Coordinator for the City of Melrose and leader of the Green Team, about the group and their exciting accomplishment. “We gave them a lot of responsibility and let them decide what their project would be completely on their own,” Schmitt explained. “At the beginning of the year, we had a brainstorm session as a team. We asked them what they thought needed to be improved at their school, and what needed fixing.”
From there, an idea was born. ”After brainstorming ideas together of environmental problems in our school, we found that the usage of disposable plastic bottles was too large. They weren’t all getting recycled and we thought the filling station would increase students using reusable bottles in our school,” explained Sophia and Amelia, members of the Green Team.
Once the idea was decided upon, it was up to the students to execute the project. They gave eloquent presentations to potential sponsors and spent hours writing well-researched letters to local businesses like Whole Foods, urging all that could to support their noble cause.
From fundraising through hot chocolate sales on cold, blustery winter days to selling reusable water bottles at school events, the students raised all the money they needed for the installation within a year’s time.
“The community was super supportive,” Schmitt stated. “The Green Team received donations from Whole Foods, the PTO and the Rotary Club among many others.” However, the process wasn’t without its challenges. Being fully student-led, the process took quite a while as the team figured out the nuts and bolts of running a campaign like this one from start to finish. “It was a priority for us that the kids learn what it takes to implement and see a project like this one through to fruition,” Schmitt explained.
“Fundraising was a huge part of getting the station and it was really fun thinking of different ideas to get money,” stated Waleed, another member of the successful team. “We did a bake sale which allowed us to earn money in a fun and involved way. Everyone got to use their different skills in our fundraising events. It was a fun learning experience.”
Their year of hard work certainly paid off! Once the bottle filling stations were successfully installed, the students celebrated by inviting all of their sponsors to a ribbon-cutting ceremony and cupcake party. Above one bottle filling station sits a plaque thanking their donors and recognizing the Green Team for their hard work. Even when they graduate to the high school, the incredible mark these students made on their community will always remain a key part of Melrose Middle School.
After their success, the Green Team has become very popular this year. The students on the team feel a huge sense of pride, having made a difference in their community at the young age of twelve. More bottle filling stations are being installed throughout the city of Melrose, a ripple effect from the Green Team installation.This year, the Green Team has split into two different projects. One team, said members Kathleen and Victor, is working on installing a community garden to bring cleaner air and fresh produce to the school. The other is looking to reduce waste in their cafeteria via composting, the benefits of which were touted enthusiastically by students Emily and Fia. One thing’s for sure… we guarantee you’ll be seeing big things come from this impressive group of middle schoolers.