TJMS Green Team is on Screen

Thomas Jefferson Middle School has gone green. On Thursday morning a group of nine students were awarded first place in Recycling & Waste District of Porter County's 2014 America Recycles Day Video Contest. The contest asked schools from around the county to send in their best video about how they recycle. Out of all the entries TJMS won first place and was awarded with a bench - which was made out of 1,550 milk cartons.

The Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County has hosted a contest in years past for schools to show their love for keeping the earth green, but this was the first time they had decided to make it a video project.

"We wanted to put something online that someone can see and be inspired by; then vote for their favorite,"Donna Stuckert, Public Education Coordinator for the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County explained. "We wanted to have a multi-media contest that many students could be involved in. We had contests in the past that were geared more towards the kids with artistic abilities, but doing video this time really brought out teachers and kids who wouldn't have done it before."

The contest was open to schools around the county to show how passionate they are about their involvement in recycling in a unique way. Word got out about the contest and the teachers at Thomas Jefferson were eager to be a part of it.

Michelle Coberg, an 8th grade English teacher for the middle school, got the idea of entering the contest going when she believed that it was a great task for the students.

"We already have a recycling team here at TJ so I thought it would be a great project for them to work on. I teamed up with Mrs. Joll, who runs the recycling program with the National Juniors Honor Society, to gather a team together," Coberg explained. "It was a really fun process to see them get excited about the making the video and then in the end seeing that they won the award against a group of student who had more abilities. It really gave them a boost of confidence that's so helpful to these kids."

From beginning to end it was the students who made their video a success. From gathering story of recycling superheros, to filming the segments - they were involved in every bit. The kids, who have already been using their awarded bench to sit on after school, were equally as excited to have their hard work recognized.

Ariana Casaday, one of the students who made video, didn't expect to get an award for working together with her classmates.

"It was just a lot of fun putting the video together with everyone," Casaday stated. "When we were putting the video together we didn't expect to win anything. We were going up against the high school and that's tough competition, so it was awesome to win."

The milk carton bench will stay in the middle school's front entrance for years to come and will be a worthy reminder of the group of nine students' hard work due for showing off their love of recycling. Their award winning video is also up on YouTube for everyone to watch!

Make sure to see the TJMS' Green Team in action. Maybe you, too, can be inspired to be just as helpful to the environment just as much as the students were.