First place

The Cousins Mid­dle School Com­mu­nity Based In­struc­tion Class rec­og­nized for top awards

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the su­per­mar­ket and how to or­der food at restau­rants.

They learned that KCNB, the City of Cov­ing­ton, and New­ton County of­fer a pro­gram through which school groups, clubs, and non­prof­its can re­cy­cle and earn money. They be­gan par­tic­i­pat­ing, at first by ex­pand­ing the re­cy­cling pro­gram at their school. Then they asked par­ents and friends to help collect items. Fi­nally, they had a break­through idea—they de­cided to of­fer to go to lo­cal busi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions on the school bus and pick up re­cy­clable items. (In or­der to re­cy­cle, these busi­nesses would of­ten need to contract with a pri­vate hauler or take their items to the re­cy­cling cen­ters them­selves.) The class found that many are very will­ing to al­low them to take the pro­ceeds from the re­cy­clables in ex­change for the haul­ing ser­vice.

In ad­di­tion to all its ben­e­fits for the en­vi­ron­ment, re­cy­cling has given the class a way to earn money and is also ed­u­ca­tional for them. It has taught stu­dents im­por­tant life and so­cial­iza­tion skills such as meet­ing peo­ple, learn­ing to speak to adults, prac­tic­ing sig­na­tures, col­lect­ing and sort­ing items, and schedul­ing pick-ups.

Cather­ine Bickel, one of the class teach­ers says, “Re­mem­ber my stu­dents have se­vere dis­abil­i­ties. When I see one of my stu­dents reach down and pick up a piece of trash and put it in the garbage can, I know all the hard work is worth it. If my stu­dents can learn to re­cy­cle and put trash in its proper place, then we can all do a bet­ter job.”

Over the last year alone, stu­dents have

The Cousins Mid­dle School Com­mu­nity Based In­struc­tion Class re­ceived first place na­tional and state Youth Recog­ni­tion Awards at both the an­nual Keep Amer­ica Beau­ti­ful (KAB) Na­tional Awards Din­ner in Washington, D.C. and the an­nual Keep Ge­or­gia Beau­ti­ful Foun­da­tion (KGBF) State Awards Lun­cheon in Atlanta. The class was nom­i­nated by Keep Cov­ing­ton/ New­ton Beau­ti­ful (KCNB) for its out­stand­ing re­cy­cling ef­forts in our com­mu­nity.

Be­cause a trip to Washington, D.C., was too ex­pen­sive for the group to take, Laurie Ri­ley, KCNB Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor, pre­sented the na­tional award to the class at the All A’s Cel­e­bra­tion at Cousins Mid­dle School ear­lier this month. The sur­prised class was greeted with thun­der­ous claps and cheers from the au­di­ence of stu­dents, teach­ers, and par­ents and posed for pic­tures.

The Cousins Mid­dle School Com­mu­nity Based In­struc­tion Class pro­gram is set up to serve dis­abled stu­dents. Two teach­ers and two para-pro­fes­sion­als teach 5-15 stu­dents each year. The New­ton County School Sys­tem pro­vides a school bus and a driver for the class to take stu­dents on short trips out into the com­mu­nity each week for ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing. How­ever, the class needs ex­tra funding to sup­port the trips. Teach­ers be­gan look­ing for a way to fund these out­ings for their stu­dents so that they could bet­ter teach prac­ti­cal life skills—things like how to buy gro­ceries at raised $3,889.60 through re­cy­cling. Al­ways the top re­cy­clers in the pro­gram, in 2014, they re­cy­cled 12,700 pounds of alu­minum and 7,960 pounds of card­board. They re­ceive 30 cents per pound for alu­minum and 1 cent per pound for card­board. They have used the funds to buy hy­giene prod­ucts for the class­room. Their largest pur­chase was 13 Kin­dle tablets for the stu­dents to use at school.

“We wanted to rec­og­nize the class, and we were thrilled to learn that they won first place in both state and na­tional awards com­pe­ti­tions. The stu­dents were gen­uinely sur­prised, happy, and ex­cited--fist-bump­ing, high-fiv­ing, and jump­ing up and down,” said Ri­ley. “They don’t know it, but they are a source of in­spi­ra­tion in the com­mu­nity. The KCNB board tracks their re­cy­cling progress with great in­ter­est and awe. At meet­ings, board mem­bers are sure to ask how much Cous- ins has earned ‘this time’. “

The class part­ners with com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions, busi­nesses, and of­fices that al­low them to pick up re­cy­cling. Cur­rently these in­clude: Beaver Man­u­fac­tur­ing; New­ton County Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing; Game Time; New­ton County Li­brary; Troy Univer­sity, New­ton Cam­pus; the City of Cov­ing­ton; New­ton County Court­house; New­ton County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion; Apollo Staffing; and sev­eral lo­cal doc­tor’s of­fices. The class also rec­og­nizes stu­dents’ and teach­ers’ par­ents, fam­i­lies, and friends as es­sen­tial part­ners.

“It’s my priv­i­lege to honor the Cousins Mid­dle School Com­mu­nity Based In­struc­tion Class and cel­e­brate their ded­i­ca­tion to mak­ing the com­mu­nity be­come more so­cially con­nected, en­vi­ron­men­tally healthy, and eco­nom­i­cally sound through their re­cy­cling ef­forts,” said Jennifer Jehn, pres­i­dent and CEO of Keep Amer­ica Beau­ti­ful.

sub­mit­ted photo / The Cov­ing­ton News

Left to right: Mered­ith Parker; Madi­son Go­er­ing; Bryant Autry; Ben Mo­ravek; Ellen Wheeler, Teacher; Laurie Ri­ley, KCNB; Devon Braswell; Tyler Stod­dard; Cody Maness; Geral­dine Camp, Para­pro­fes­sional. Not pic­tured: Princess Philpot and Lisa Richards; Para­pro­fes­sion­als

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