Recycling and reporting: students blend subjects in Rochester Memorial project

Dec 2, 2021

Sixth grade students at Rochester Memorial School are putting the skills they learn in their classes to real-world use during the launch of a new recycling initiative. 

The school is participating in the NexTrex plastic film recycling challenge — a competition to see which school can collect the most recyclable plastic film, including items like plastic bags. 

The effort to spread the word about the project was spearheaded by a group of ambitious sixth graders who took on the mantle of “reporter” for the project. To learn more about the challenge, read the article that was contributed to Sippican Week by those students. 

Science teacher Tracey Forns explained that the students were split into groups for the project and each took on different roles — one of which was the job of reporter. Those students wrote articles and reached out to various publications in the hopes of getting their work published. 

Forns explained that the students had also received lessons on how to write professional emails before they reached out to news outlets. The reporters were able to put their newfound email skills to work when they sent out their articles, which were written to inform the community about the recycling initiative. 

Although there were a number of reporters, Abigail Jacques, Adelaide Zell and Mara Donnelly reached out to Sippican Week.

Zell, 11, said that students were given “an assortment of different jobs” and were allowed to “choose what we felt we’d be comfortable with.” 

“I really like writing,” Jacques, 11, said, explaining why she chose the reporter job. “It’s something I’ve always been pretty good at.”

Donnelly, 12, said that so far, the recycling project is going well.

“People bring stuff in,” she said. “The foyer was filled.”

Forns also said the project was starting out strong.

“We’re at over 200 pounds, and it just started on Monday,” she said on Nov. 18. “It’s incredible.”

Once the plastic is collected from the drop-off sites, Forns said it is weighed and packaged by the students. 

After that, a parent volunteer delivers the plastic to the school’s partner, Stop & Shop in Fairhaven where it will be recycled.

“Stop & Shop in Fairhaven is the only place that will take it, which is huge,” Forns said. She noted that when the school participated in the competition two years ago, they struggled to find a place that would accept the plastic film that was gathered. “They’re partnering with us, which is great.”