The Spirit Award was created last year by the city and was given to the school with the most spirit during the Earth Day celebration. This year, the Earth Day celebration will be held on April 20.
"We do take recycling seriously," said Silvia Abbato, principal of Hudson School.
The school holds a monthly recycling contest and recently has created a new environmental club with the money from a $5,000 federal grant from the Department of Environmental Protection. The money will be used to promote recognition of recycling as a community ethic within the school's population of low-income Hispanic immigrant families. School-based and sponsored activities for K-thru-6 students and their parents will be carried out to build environmental awareness and participation in school and community recycling programs. The students will also develop a booklet on recycling and the environment, which will be published electronically on the Union City Public Schools website.
"We are making the students aware that we are responsible for the environment," said Abbato. "And if they bring that awareness home with them then we did our job."
This year, the Board of Education has started the Project Pride Task Force to encourage all of the city's schools to take recycling more seriously. The task force places one facilitator in each school and sets up a recycling club within each school.
"We are approaching recycling very aggressively," said Commissioner Tina Yandolino, who is also the Board of Education's recycling coordinator.
Yandolino explained that recycling cardboard alone brings the city $5,000 a month in revenue. The city receives $26 a ton for cardboard when it is delivered to the Hudson County Recycling Center in Jersey City.
"Cardboard is so valuable," said Yandolino. "Recycling decreases the amount of garbage in our city and produces revenue. It is a win-win situation for our city."
In the Hudson School, each classroom has a recycling bin. The school also has selected five recycling monitors from the school's recycling club to empty these bins twice a week.
However, these monitors have much more to do.
According to Mayra Alecio, a fifth grade monitor, each bin is weighed before it is emptied. At the end of the month, the monitors present the classroom with the most recycling with a yellow recycling ribbon.
"It is an entire school effort," said Claire Guardascione, the advisor for the recycling club. "The students really understand the reason they are recycling."
The other recycling monitors, Cindy Osorto, Grecia Alvarez, Katherine Rivas and Mitzy Gonzalez, said that breathing fresher air and making the world a better place are some of the reasons they recycle.
Beautifying the area
The sixth grade environmental club is thinking about more ways to help the environment around the school than just to recycle.
This club was started just one month ago at Hudson School as a way to take the school's recycling efforts even farther.
"They are the oldest kids in the school," said Anthony Hernandez, the advisor for the environmental club. "If they are helping out the environment, the younger students will follow their lead."
These students are working to beautify the area around their school as well as recycling during the day.
Luis Ledesma, one of the club's members, said that the club is going to start by planting flowers and other shrubbery around the school.
"We want to beautify the area," said Ledesma.
The club is also going to pick up the litter inside and outside the school twice a week.
"People just throw things out on the floor," said Jonathan Cortes, another club member.
Joshua Colon, another member of the group, is already working on an Earth Day rap song for the Earth Day celebration on April 20.