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Lafayette Middle School awarded recycling grant after 5-year process

Five years ago, Lafayette Middle School sixth grade teacher Joanna Porter realized how much paper was being wasted around the school building.

Now, through a joint effort with Oxford Recycling, the Mississippi Recycling Coalition has awarded a school recycling grant to Porter and LMS for their work in educating students about recycling and the environment.

LMS was one of nine Mississippi schools that were awarded a grant, as the MRC has gifted them a $1,000 grant for their efforts.

“I just started talking to the other teachers and realized, with having a gifted program, this is something I can teach my students to show responsibility and environmental quality,” Porter said.

Porter said she started small five years ago, as she worked with Oxford Recycling Coordinator Michelle Robinson to start the initiative. From there, Porter met Connie Hunter, who helped push their efforts further.

“She got us some bins from the city,” Porter said of Robinson’s initial help. “It took a few years to grow with that. Once Connie started working with Michelle, I got to know her as well and it’s really taken off the last two years.”

The MRC offers grants to all public and private schools, with teaching grades K-12 students in the State of Mississippi. The grants are $500 or $1,000 cash award, and also include a complimentary one-year membership to the MRC for each school.

A panel of MRC members evaluates each school grant application based on four criterions: recycling components of the program, student leadership and participation in the program, community involvement within the program and the emphasis the program puts on educating students.

Hunter, who works in Oxford Recycling as an educator, said teachers that are willing to educate students about recycling is one of the best things about the initiatives.

“We feel like it’s really important to get the kids when they’re young and start good habits with them,” Hunter said. “When we have teachers that are willing to work with us and teach the children, it’s the best thing.”

Porter said her students were allowed to present their case to the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors, and show them what they were exactly doing to promote better recycling habits at LMS.

“When they met with the supervisors, it was a big deal,” Porter said. “Once they see the money working for us, with the cart, with the materials that we need, I think it’s going to make their habits more consistent.”

Porter said she wanted to make a point that recycling in the city was much more difficult countywide than it is citywide. With the $1,000 grant, Porter said she’s going to attempt to make the recycling program grow even further.

“The program we’re doing right now is just with our sixth graders,” Porter said. “Next year might be sixth and seventh grade, if we can.”