2016-12-23 / Front Page

Waste not, want not

Sanford students pitch lunch scrap composting
Senior Staff Writer

SANFORD — Students who are part of Sanford High School’s Environmental Club  are working to do what they can to make sure the new state-of-the-art high school and technical center, set to open in the fall of 2018, is as up-to-date environmentally as it is in other ways.

Already, the students in Beth Marass’s AP Environmental Science classes undertake recycling every week, gathering all the discarded paper — many bags full — that accumulate in the 1,200-student school. As well, they gather soda cans, and use the cash they get when they’re turned in to help fund a variety of school club projects.

But even though the students graduating in June of 2017 or 2018 won’t be taking classes at the brand new facility, they’re casting an eye to the future.

And so when they had the opportunity to enter a national contest designed to showcase STEAM skills — that's the acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts and math — they knew just where they’d hone their focus.

They will encourage composting cafeteria food scraps — what’s left over on lunch trays — with  a view to using the resulting compost on community gardens and then turn the resulting produce over to the Sanford Food Pantry.

The competition is called the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest. Sanford High School, Wells High School and Noble High School in North Berwick are  among five schools across Maine that are finalists in the competition. Wells High School students have designed a submarine to study the waters off Wells harbor, while students at Noble High School have a plan to increase the cleanliness and safety of the local water supply, according to Samsung. The other Maine finalists are students at Nokomis High School in Newport, who hope to provide better access to the school with telepresence robots, and the Katahdin program at RSU 14, which plans to expand the school garden to support the school lunch program.

At Sanford High School, two Environmental Club students, President Katie Gould and Riley Bodkin, said the club hopes to approach the Sanford School Committee early in 2017 to request that food scraps from school lunches don’t end up in the trash at the new high school, but are composted instead.

“We want a state-of-the-art school with a state-of-the art environmental program,” said Bodkin.

“We visited the elementary schools to spread awareness,” said Gould. “These kids will be at the (new) high school.”

Gould and Bodkin agree that education is necessary to engage the younger students.

“They need to know how much waste we produce,” Bodkin said. “Composting and reducing waste helps. I don’t want to live in a community where we waste everything.”

According to Samsung, the state finalist schools were chosen based on their proposals to solve complicated issues that affect their communities by using STEAM learning. As state finalists, each  classroom will receive a Samsung Galaxy tablet and the opportunity to advance in the competition and win additional prizes. A single winner for the state will be chosen soon.

From the pool of 51 state winners — including all 50 states and Washington, D.C. — 10 national finalists will be selected. The national finalists will then pitch their idea live in New York to a panel of judges and America will be able to vote on their favorite ideas. Ultimately, three national winners will be selected and will receive a $150,000 technology grant and a $20,000 donation to a nonprofit of  their choice. Sanford students have chosen Sanford Food Pantry as their charity of choice for the cash award, should they win the competition.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or twells@journaltribune.com.

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