The Waste Warriors program comes with an instructional and informational video designed to teach young students about the importance of recycling, the impact waste and litter have on the community and world and ways they can begin recycling at home, in school and in the community.
While students throughout the district will be able to learn from the video, it will have a much different impact in east Sparks given that multiple Reed High School students are featured in the video. Those students are members, or past members, of the Reed High EcoWarriors, a club dedicated to improving the school’s environment to be more ‘green-friendly.’
“As I was watching (the video) I was thinking it’s pretty exciting,” said Leigh Metcalfe, Reed High's environmental science teacher and co-advisor of the EcoWarriors. “It is a little young for high school students, but we will probably show it in environmental science and say students at Reed helped put this together and they are working to raise awareness about a lot of issues in the environment and in our community. I think it will be exciting to be able to say these students went to Reed and were making an impact.”
The video premiered inside the Reed High School theater Tuesday where community members, teachers and students were able to see the statistical information come to life from the voices and faces of several Reed High students. Celeste Tinajero, a former member of EcoWarriors, said the club gave her a much different view about recycling and the environment, leading her to increase her volunteer efforts.
“We like to raise awareness at our school,” Tinajero said. “We have done things like the River Cleanup and tree planting. We try to do anything that we can. It really was a great group to be a part of.”
Tinajero participated in many school and community clean-ups with the EcoWarriors club and she aided the group in turning two Reed High bathrooms into ‘green’ bathrooms, which included low-flow toilets, motion-sensor lighting, soap dispensers and hand-dryers.
“I think the best part was just making that real effort and knowing that you actually help,” Tinajero said. “I do continue to work with Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful and I will be volunteering often to keep up with what I have already learned.”
The Waste Warriors curriculum has WCSD teachers and administrators excited about bringing recycling knowledge to students, according to STEM Coordinator Kelly Barber. The former Reed High teacher said the materials had her excited about introducing it to the WCSD.
“After the first time I saw the video, that was when I knew, immediately, that we needed to do anything we could to get these resources to our teachers and our students,” Barber said. “The Common Core Curriculum, Next Generation Science Standards and STEM ask teachers to think differently and have students solving real-world problems in the classroom.
“Integrated learning for the 21st century is what our students need. I am so excited to be able to provide this for our students and support the teachers in implementation of this unit. I am really excited about the collaboration with Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful and I know it is just the beginning of something great for our students and teachers at the Washoe County School District.”
Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful will celebrate 25 years of stewardship in the community in 2014. Christi Cakiroglu, KTMB executive director, said the group works with thousands of volunteers on various projects during the year, raising awareness and changing habits of the community.
"Kids are taking part in our community earlier and earlier, and Waste Warriors has always showed them how they can make our home better for everyone," Cakiroglu said. "By showing them they make a difference, and giving them respect for the Truckee Meadows, we grow a generation of young people who can become a real asset to our area."
Reed High’s EcoWarriors will no doubt be a part of the KTMB efforts in the future, however the group will focus its improvements and projects on the east Sparks campus. The group is already midway through fundraising for a water refill station dating back to last year, while this year’s plans are yet to be determined.
“It is always fueled by what the students passions are,” Metcalfe said of the EcoWarriors’ efforts. “That is the direction we take, so it changes every year based on what they are interested in. They see a problem. They complain about it and they find an answer. It is amazing.
“I think that it is really important to have a branch within the school so that the students can generate those issues they are concerned about and come up with solutions on a small scale. Hopefully that applies to the whole community. Often times, when big projects are being planned in the community, it is not necessarily student input that is driving them. But at the school, it is driven by the students and then it can go out to the community.”