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PS 229 in Woodside wins recycling award

Queens schools led the pack in recycling and cleanup in this year's Sanitation Department Golden Apple awards, taking home four citywide awards, compared with two each from Manhattan and Brooklyn and one from Staten Island.

Schools in all five boroughs submitted portfolios detailing their recycling programs, efforts to reuse discarded items and clean-up projects. Sanitation officials judged the projects and awarded each citywide winner a prize of $6,000, with smaller prizes for runners-up.

The Reduce and Reuse Challenge rewards schools for implementing the most successful and innovative waste prevention practices, Sanitation said.

Woodside's PS 229 won the Reduce and Reuse Challenge in the elementary school category as well as a $1,000 "Golden Shovel" prize for its composting program.

A brainstorming session on how to make their school greener resulted in indoor composting with worm bins, a book swap, reusing water bottles as free-weights for "Get Fit Fridays," packaging groceries in reusable bags and preparing lunches with reusable or recyclable products, staff said.

The school also won last year for its "Recycling Police Force," in which young students suit up with toy military helmets and badges to search teachers' wastebaskets to ensure no recyclables are discarded.

"When you see them getting excited about preserving the environment, it's very rare," said teacher Megan Walter, who organized the programs with Assistant Principal Corinne Caballero. She said she went so far green that she printed the school's award application on the back of previously used paper and sent it inside the same box the school used last year.

"I love it," she said. "I'm like a recycling dork."

St. Albans' PS 233 won the Reduce and Reuse Challenge for the high school category.

Students at this school began "Quilting for a Cause" to reuse discarded clothing and help the less fortunate. These students, disabled young adults, collected and washed donated clothing, cut the material into squares for quilting and sewed the pieces together.

The Trashmasters Team Up to Clean Up award recognizes schools with the most extensive and original cleanup and beautification projects, Sanitation said.

This year, Oakland Gardens' PS 205 won the award in the elementary school category. Teachers and students there developed "The Big Clean Up," a program that gets children from all grades involved in reviving the school's nine gardens at the end of winter.

The gardens are used for teaching lessons on science, mathematics — even creative writing, educators there said.

Broad Channel's PS 47 won the award this year for the intermediate school category. Students at this school are in their second year of working to rid the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge of a highly competitive and destructive non-native plant called the Oriental Bittersweet.

The students are also trying to determine if the invasive plant can be reused. This year they made the vines into Mother's Day wreaths — first carefully removing and discarding the berries, which help spread the plant.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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