Phoenix Hebrew Academy was named the Arizona winner of Recycle-Bowl, a nationwide recycling competition for elementary-, middle- and high-school students.
The City of Phoenix, Arizona Recycling Coalition and Keep Phoenix Beautiful recognized the school at a March 3 news conference. Presenters included Vice Mayor Jim Waring and Councilman Sal DiCiccio, who spoke about how recycling plays a major role in the city’s commitment to sustainability and innovation.
Fran LaSala of the Arizona Recycling Coalition congratulated the students for their recycling efforts, telling them that they came in first in Arizona and second in the nation.
Recycle-Bowl, sponsored by Keep America Beautiful, puts schools in competition with each other nationwide and is based on per-student recycling, allowing small schools to compete with larger schools. “You went up against bigger schools, but you did it better than anyone else,” LaSala told the students. Phoenix Hebrew Academy has 132 students.
About 1,500 schools participated across the country, Waring said during his remarks. “Ninety-two schools participated (in Arizona), and we’re not even close to being the biggest state.”
PHA recycled an average of 12 pounds per student. “You’re finding a way to reuse materials,” he said. “A plastic bottle may come out as a pair of sunglasses later,” Waring said.
Tom Waldeck, executive director of Keep Phoenix Beautiful and a board member of Keep America Beautiful, presented a $1,000 check on behalf of Keep America Beautiful, Nestlé Waters and ReCommunity to Rabbi Isaac Entin, PHA principal, and Sheila Shaffer, sixth-grade and middle-school language arts teacher.
In an ongoing effort, the sixth-graders analyzed how much trash was recyclable, Shaffer said. “We did some investigation and found that over 60 percent of what went in the recycling bin was actually paper from the school.”
In addition to participating in the Recycle-Bowl, the school held another contest that involved students designing recycling-themed logos and inventing mottos that were judged by the sixth-grade class, Shaffer said. The winners, Yaacov Almosolino and Shmuel Breken, both in fourth grade, came up with the motto, “Reuse the things you throw away to help our earth in every way” and designed the winning logo. They were presented with string bags adorned with the logo and motto and will be treated to a pizza lunch.
Shaffer emphasized that the school will continue the recycling program. “We’re not just dropping it because the contest is over,” she said.
Entin concluded the news conference by thanking city officials and other representatives for attending. “It’s an amazing cherry on top of a wonderful program, and we really enjoyed doing it,” he said.
The check will be given to the school’s founder, Rabbi David Rebibo, who will decide how to disperse the funds, Shaffer said. “We thought it would be the fairest way because it was a schoolwide effort and it should go for something for the whole school.”