Woodland School celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with $10K of green in Morris Township


“The Wearin’ of the Green” had special meaning for the 340 students of Morris Township’s Woodland School on Thursday.

All the K-2 pupils were decked out for St. Patrick’s Day–and to receive $10,000 in greenbacks from a statewide recycling contest.

“Every single school in the world should do it,” second-grader Sean Vail said of recycling. “Then there wouldn’t be any stuff on the ground, like soda cans.”

(Please click icon below for captions.)

Sean’s mom, Suzie Vail, and another mom, Christine Volinsky, co-founded a 10-mom “Green Team” at Woodland and galvanized kids to sort their lunch refuse into recycling bins.

The school finished fifth in a statewide “Trash to Cash” contest sponsored by TerraCycle, a Trenton company started by a Princeton University dropout who sold organic “worm poop” fertilizer in used soda bottles and then branched out to make lunch bags, fences and other products from hard-to-recycle materials.

Between October and December, Woodland’s Green Team collected nearly 35,000 items. At 2 cents apiece, they netted more than $715 for the group, in addition to the Trash for Cash prize from Walmart.

“This was a true example of moms coming up with a wonderful idea for the kids,” said Principal David Gidich, who pitched in last fall with some “dumpster diving” to find recycling bins for the cafeteria.

“This is a wonderful learning experience for the kids. I think the kids are developing a sense of personal responsibility for their school and their community,” he said. Woodland also has a small composting program for lunch leftovers.

More than 500 schools across New Jersey competed in this first Trash to Cash challenge, said TerraCycle’s Stacey Cusack, who showed off pencil cases and notebook binders made from “upcycled” plastic drink pouches.

Upcycled products resemble the original materials from which they are made; products made from recycled materials generally do not.

Stacey said the contest goal was to instill in students a lifelong appreciation for the planet.

The prize money probably will buy some classroom technology and maybe help subsidize construction of a greenhouse, Principal Gidich said.

green team sean and suzie vail
GREEN TEAM: Second-grader Sean Vail and his mom, Suzie Vail, helped the Woodland School win a $10,000 recycling prize. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
green team at woodland
The Woodland School 'Green Team' holds $10K check from Walmart, rewarding K-2 pupils recycling drive. L-R: Moms Christine Volinsky, Mary Anne Saxon, Andrea Smith; Principal David Gidich; moms Kristin Zawacki and Suzie Vail; and Stacey Cusack of Terracycle. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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