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Clarksville Elem. secures $1,000

Lafarge Cement grant will expand composting program

When you toss out a banana peel, it's probably going to end up at the dump along with the rest of the garbage. But at Clarksville Elementary, members of the Green Club are looking to change the way snack byproducts are handled.

A $1,000 grant will let the club install worm composting bins in each of the school's 12 classrooms, which will break down organic wastes like apple cores or orange peels for use in the schools' flower beds or garden.

The money was awarded by the Lafarge Cement Plant's Community Liaison Panel, which is comprised of leaders from surrounding municipalities and plant representatives. The panel solicited responses from schools in Rensselaer, Columbia, Greene and Albany counties, said plant Environmental Operations Manager John Reagan, also a member of the panel.

We hoped for a school to come up with a really creative idea We received some great applications, Reagan said. "Our intention is to rerun this grant every year."

Fifth grade teacher Heather Bush runs the Clarksville Green Club along with school nurse Kathy Betzhold. They started regular meetings of the club this year, and have already tackled a number of initiatives.

Bush already has a compost bin in her own class, which she uses not only for recycling but also for educational purposes by showing students how matter decomposes.

"It's not new a Clarksville, it's something that we've been promoting for the last couple years," she said.

Paper recycling has been in the school for several years now, so the students responded to the idea of composting their banana peels and apple cores with enthusiasm.

"They're very proactive about being conscious about where they throw their garbage," Bush said.

In the future, the compost program may be expanded to take in kitchen scraps. The composted material will be used to enrich soil at Clarksville (where the Green Club already has a flower bed and will soon be planting bulbs), or at the Middle School garden.

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