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Recycling Contest Latest Example of the Green Culture at Patrick Taylor Academy

Pictured from left are Patrick Taylor Academy ninth graders Marilyn Pati and Jake LeBlanc, teacher Lisa Valence, seventh grader Olivia Sonnier, and sixth grader Maverick Becnel.

Pictured from left are Patrick Taylor Academy ninth graders Marilyn Pati and Jake LeBlanc, teacher Lisa Valence, seventh grader Olivia Sonnier, and sixth grader Maverick Becnel.

The students of Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy separated themselves from the pack during their second year participating in the annual recycling contest held by Progressive Waste Solutions and the New Orleans Saints. The school had the highest diversion rate in this year’s contest, which asks local schools to divert as many items as possible away from the regular trash and into recycling bins.

“We live and breath recycling. We really do, and the environment.” said Patrick Taylor Academy teacher Lisa Valence, who led the school’s team of 4-H students on this project.

Patrick Taylor Academy finished with a 61.8% diversion rate, 21.3% better than the second place school. Other JPPSS schools finishing high on the leader board were Gretna No. 2 Academy for Advanced Studies (third place), Airline Park Academy (fourth), and Joshua Butler Elementary (fifth). Starting with the contest last year, two trash cans were placed in each classroom at Patrick Taylor Academy. Cans with translucent bags were for recyclables, while cans with black bags were for everything else. The students also produced an informational video to run during the school’s Friday announcements. More than those steps, however, students and teachers at Patrick Taylor credit the win to a culture that values the environment.

“Every time someone put something that’s recyclable in the trash, I showed them where the recycling bin was,” said Patrick Taylor ninth grader Marilyn Pati.

“It was already part of the culture,” said Patrick Taylor Academy ninth grader Jake LeBlanc. “Students would go and throw something away and our teachers would say, ‘Make sure to recycle it.’ All the new kids and all the old kids really united together for a better cause.”

Some examples of other better causes students unite over include the school’s rooftop garden, a campus nursery full of cypress and oak trees that will likely be planted next school year, an emphasis on paperless assignments, and an effort to expand recycling in the city of Westwego. High school science classes place an emphasis on environmental science and the school’s sixth graders studied a book about a young man who battles pollution.

“It really teaches kids you can make a difference in your environment,” said LeBlanc.

Reduce, reuse and recycle is also a lesson catching the attention of school staff. Valence said her students’ success would not be possible without the help of the custodial staff, who often diverts recyclables to the correct bin, and the cafeteria staff, who have rinsed out containers just so they could be recycled.

“It is back to our school culture,” said Valence. “Everybody is on board.”