WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Pine Ridge Middle School students have turned nearly 130 pounds of trash into treasure, thanks to a grant from Dominion Energy and a partnership with Communities in Schools.
Students at the Lexington Two school launched a year-long project in the 2019-20 academic year, part of a $15,000 Environmental Stewardship grant Dominion Energy’s Charitable Foundation awarded to Communities in Schools of the Midlands, which works with Pine Ridge Middle on a number of projects. Pine Ridge’s project included visits from representatives of the Palmetto Ocean Conservancy, a friendly bottle cap collection drive among students, and brainstorming ways to turn bottle caps of many shapes, sizes and colors into artwork.
The result was two murals -- one of which will be hung at the school, while the other will be shared with Dominion Energy employees.
“The recycling challenge was a fun and innovative way for students to learn about the importance of protecting and caring for our natural resources while simultaneously empowering them to make a difference through a fun and unique recycling project,” said Dominion spokesman Matt Long. “That project required teamwork, goal setting, creativity, and dedication that, in the end, helped turn someone else’s discarded plastic bottles and caps into a true work of art.”
COVID-19 interrupted some of the bottle cap gluing scheduled for March, said Susan Key, Communities in Schools’ site coordinator at Pine Ridge. But with the new school year, work was wrapped up and the two murals revealed at the school in late October.
Now, Key said, Pine Ridge students will be collaborating with the University of South Carolina’s Sierra Club Student Council in developing a compost gardening project to start at the school in mid-November. Each grade level will participate in growing food, and the school hopes to provide food to families in need.
The Bottle Cap Challenge aligned with the State Department of Education's 7th grade Science curriculum as well as educating our students about the effects of plastic in the ocean and South Carolina’s beaches. The upcoming Garden Galore project will teach students the process of composting and gardening, with an emphasis in sustainability and gardening skills. It meets 8th grade Science standards.
“We were proud to support Communities in Schools of the Midlands, because they are a well-established nonprofit making a difference in the lives of students and families across the Midlands,” Dominion Energy’s Long said. “They are a strong partner whose mission is to surround students with a community of support. This support empowers the students to stay in school and achieve in life.”