Suffolk school wins recycling award

Published 9:04 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Suffolk school administrator has been recognized for her efforts to reduce the environmental impact of her school.

John Yeates Middle School assistant principal Wendy VanHosen received the Environmental Action Award from on Feb. 16. VanHosen was recognized for a school-wide recycling program she implemented with the help of teachers and students. is a public awareness program encouraging environmental stewardship and is administered through the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission. The award recognizes individuals who inspire youth to have a positive environmental impact by acting locally.

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“I’m humbled,” VanHosen said. “It was unexpected, but I think it is awesome to be recognized for this type of service.”

VanHosen started the John Yeates Middle School recycling club in during the 2015-2016 school year. The school did not have a recycling program or dedicated recycle bins at the time. There are now four large recycling bins in the hallways, and more than half of the school’s 100 classrooms have them, as well.

“It’s just my hope that there is an awareness there, and that it will become important to the students and the teachers,” VanHosen said. “I just really hope it’s something the whole school itself take hold of.”

Nearly a dozen students are in the recycling club, along with teacher-sponsors Sabrina Hays and Lauren Rubash. Rubash said the students enjoy coming to the after-school meetings, and their numbers are growing.

“We’ve had more kids come in and join recycling club because of their friends mentioning it,” she said.

Thirteen-year-old student Megan Sook is the recycling club president. She encourages other students to recycle “because they want to save the planet that they live on,” she said.

“I think it’s important, because it helps air quality to be cleaner, it helps the animals and it makes the Earth a better place,” Sook said.

The school received a $100 check with the award to continue its eco-friendly efforts. VanHosen said the money will be used to finish furnishing classrooms with identifiable blue recycle bins. The club is also planning initiatives for Earth Day this April.

“One of the challenges of keeping things consistent and sustained is to keep it visual and keep it in conversations,” VanHosen said. “It takes a lot of effort.”

She said that, more than anything, she thinks the real reward is the students’ awareness and response to environmental concerns. She wants these recycling efforts to continue after they graduate.

“I think it is beneficial to students to have an understanding to take care of the world in which we live,” VanHosen said. “It’s a lesson to take with them.”