Christmas spirit was high at Cookson Elementary School for the annual Recycled Ornament Competition. The contest was organized by Miami County Solid Waste District and a representative from the district judged the work of participating students. The three students from Cookson who won awards for their ornament creations were Micah Pyles-Dodd, Mitchell Sargent, and Kayden Jenkins.

Micah is in 3rd grade and designed a recycling bin out of recycled materials to remind everyone about the daily, household materials that can and should be recycled. “I wanted to remind people to recycle our waste, especially at this time of year,” Micah said.

Mitchell Sargent who is also in 3rd grade was originally planning to go camping with his family back in November when the competition was first announced. Although the weather was too cold that weekend for them to go, Mitchell was already thinking about camping and chose to design a s’more out of cardboard and other recyclables “since we couldn’t make a real one at the campground.” Mitchell said he had fun making the ornament and really liked the way it finally turned out.
Kayden Jenkins was the smallest but by no means the least among the competition winners this year with a wreath ornament made up of pop bottle tabs painted red. His mother helped him with the paint but Kayden felt no less responsible and excited about his unique design. “I can’t wait for it to hang on our tree!” Kayden said. Even at such a young age, Kayden has been taught that what would have been trash can have a new purpose and be used in positive ways instead of potentially contributing to waste that could harm the environment.

Enthusiasm for the project was shared by 3rd grade science teacher, Mrs. Shelley Stewart. She sees the integration of learning, lifestyle, and creativity as a beautiful amalgamation of curriculum standards and demonstration of learning.  “We really enjoyed getting involved with this project,” Stewart said. “I’m so very proud of our students and their commitment to our earth’s well-being and to this specific work.”
Miami County Solid Waste District sent Lauren Karch out to represent their department and give awards to the children. Creativity was the primary quality taking into account during judging. Karch expressed that she was impressed with the creativity of the Cookson students this year.

According to Cookson principal Stephanie Johnson, partnerships like the one with Miami County Solid Waste District are a gift to her students. “Our teachers and students and families appreciate the many resources and opportunities that are afforded to our students. It is optimal when our community has projects that so directly tie with the work our students need to be doing,” Johnson said. “The students’ work becomes even more meaningful and is recognized by not only us but by many others as well.”

Johnson said that these are the kinds of projects she enjoys offering to students and their families. Participation in community life and the joy and selfless sacrifice of doing good at this time of the year is paramount to the values Cookson seeks to instill in their students all year round.