Styrofoam is recyclable, but the process is costly and not widely available in the United States. Plastic bags don’t go in a home recycling bin, but grocery stores will collect them. Textiles that are still in good shape can be donated, not thrown away to clog up landfills.

The students at William B. Wade Elementary School know this. And on Friday, April 20 they proved it when Frankie Sherman, recycling and litter superintendent for Charles County Government, stopped by the school to play a recycling game with third grader Allison Macdonald, fourth grader Arzelle Cayetano and Nicholas Cruz, a fifth grader. “Our landfills are slowly growing bigger and bigger,” Cruz said. “If we can’t take care of the Earth, we can’t take care of us.”

The students were featured in a Charles County Government Facebook Live to test their recycling knowledge. They had 30 seconds and took turns grabbing an item from a bin and chucking it into another — recycle bin, donation/drop-off and trash. “The county generates a lot of waste,” Sherman said. “And there are some misconceptions about what is recyclable.”

Activities like the recycling challenge and Skip the Straw, an Ocean Conservancy program to keep plastic straws and stirrers out of the ecosystem and away from wildlife, give students an opportunity to speak up about environmental issues. “It empowers them to make some responsible decisions,” said Wade’s Principal Kevin Jackson Sr.

Wade was recently recertified as a 2018 Maryland Green School by the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE).

YouTube video

The Wade Arcade 

Cayetano, Cruz and Macdonald weren’t the only ones celebrating Earth Day with a game or two. In the Wade gymnasium, there was Plinko — some stretching taller than its operator, others small enough that it was easier to play sitting down; a few skee-ball games, including a Black Panther themed version; and water bottle bowling.

All of the games at Wade were the second grade’s environmentally friendly take on Caine’s Arcade. Caine’s Arcade is a 2012 documentary about a young Los Angeles boy who constructed a cardboard arcade while killing time at his father’s job at an auto parts store.

Wade students were tasked with building games out of cardboard, plastic bottles and other materials that could be lifted from the blue bins with chasing arrows on the side. “We want to make recycling a habit that students will continue to do in the future,” said Joy Fisher, a special education instructional assistant and leader of the school’s Go Green team that includes a core group of employees who look for ways to make the school, along with its staff and students, more environmentally responsible.

Damon Jenkins built a skee-ball game using a diaper box and construction paper. Jenkins said he and his mother put it together, adding that the player has to toss a marble into an opening for 5, 10 or 15 points. Before a player started, Jenkins asked, “Do you know how to count by fives?” He liked that he and his fellow second graders used their imagination to craft games out of recycled materials. “If you recycle, you can make new stuff,” Jenkins said. “The world, it’s an endangered species. We have to protect it.”

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,900 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

Images and video courtesy of Wade Elementary School