By TAYLOR HARTZ
On Oct. 21, school administrators and local officials gathered with students from Flanders Elementary School to unveil the school’s new playground, made entirely from recycled toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, and floss containers.
The school earned the playground after winning the TerraCycle Recycled Playground Challenge earlier this year.
Flanders joined schools from across the state and throughout New York, New Jersey, Penn., Delaware, and Maryland, who were participating in the Colgate Oral Care Bridgade, a free recycling program offered by Colgate and TerraCycle.
All schools participating in the program were eligible to compete for the new playground, and Flanders took first place in the contest by collecting oral care products and casting online votes – tallying up a total of 240,436 “playground credits.”
Suzanne Whitehead, Vice President of the Flanders Parent Teacher Organization (PTO,) said she learned of the contest on March 24 and from then on “our entire PTO gave it all we had.”
Whitehead said the group dedicated 82 days of the school year to strategizing how they could win the playground for the students at Flanders.
State Representatives Joe Markley (R) and David Zoni (D) joined Town Counilors Mike Riccio and Cheryl Lounsbury, Superintenden of Schools Timothy Connellan, Board of Education member Zaya Oshana, and the entire Flanders student body in celebrating the playground’s big reveal on Oct. 21.
“It was an amazing effort on the part of our parents and community to win this,” said Flanders Principal Pat Mazzarella, “this playscape will be a symbol of that hard work.”
Sponsored by Colgate and Shoprite, the contest encouraged students to recycle and promote environmental protection.
Clara Laya, Colgate’s North America Sustainability Lead, told students “you are helping to protect the planet and improve the environment,” and urged students to be proud of their sustainability efforts.
“Each one of us can make a difference, and you guys made a difference,” said Laya.
Photos by TAMMI NAUDUS (Click to enlarge)