It is for this reason that the Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) recently held its second annual crayon Recycling Contest in the county.
Students from 31 Hudson County elementary schools (public and parochial) participated, and two of the winning schools are Public School Number 2 in West New York and the Holy Rosary Academy in Union City.
In the 2002 contest, students in Hudson County elementary schools collected approximately 1,580 pounds of crayons. This past year, the number was a bit lower, but still impressive - 1,400 pounds of crayons.
According to the HCIA, the crayons collected will be shipped by the HCIA to LAF Lines, Ltd. This company will recycle the old, broken crayons into new "Crazy Crayons" which come in 26 different colors and many creative designs. They will also be recyclable. For each pound of crayons sent to them for recycling, they will return "Crazy Crayons" to participating schools.
Nov. 15 was National America Recycles Day, and this contest was launched last year in an effort to educate students and their parents as to the importance of recycling. According to HCIA officials, "Students not only get the opportunity to learn about the importance of recycling but they can look forward to seeing the fruits of their efforts as well."
The "fruits" are not only their own special "Crazy Crayons," but they will be treated to assemblies in the coming weeks featuring acrobats, jugglers and clowns. Assemblies were scheduled to be held last Tuesday in Jersey City and last Wednesday in West New York. Holy Rosary's assembly is scheduled to take place later in the month.
According to Holy Rosary third grade teacher Daisy Nisch, who coordinated the event at the Catholic School, as soon as the kids heard about the contest, they were very excited. Said Nisch, "A circular went around to all the schools and as soon as my students saw the contest, they were really excited about it."
Added Nisch, "Some kids brought in their own broken crayons from home and we even had some parents buy new boxes of crayons which they brought in and broke just so they could be involved in recycling them."
Holy Rosary distinguished itself by donating the highest percentage of crayons per student.
Clarendon School in Secaucus won second place and also deserves special congratulations for gathering 183.6 pounds of crayons, making it the school with the single largest donation.
According to the HCIA the winners were chosen on a percentage basis, that is, the number of pounds of crayons collected divided by the school enrollment.
West New York's Public School Number 2 art teacher Deana Moore is new to her job, so she jumped at the chance to rally her kids around a cause and let them have fun at the same time. "We had a large participation within the school," said Moore. "We had boxes set up all over the school and they were all pretty much filled."
P.S. No. 2 Assistant Principal Robert Reiman agreed. "We had everyone pitching in. Everyone found a broken crayon somewhere. This was one clean school, that's for sure."
And the reaction of the teachers involved in the contest is a testament to the success of the effort. Not only did the students have fun and learn something, but their teachers did as well. Said Moore, "I had a really good time with it and I'll definitely do it again."
P.S. No. 2 Principal Beverly Lazzara echoed that sentiment when she said, "When the children see the payoff (the returned crayons and the assemblies), it makes them want to be involved again."
There is no official word about a contest next year, but judging from the success of the past two years, it's a safe bet that the contest will become an annual event.