Derynoski school seeks new playscape

Students at Flanders play on the new school playscape in 2015 that was won during the TerraCycle Recycled Playground Challenge. Now, Derynoski Elementary School is trying to do it again.



Derynoski Elementary School is calling on the community for help. They soon could win a brand new playground through the regional TerraCycle recycling challenge.

TerraCycle recycles the traditionally “non-recyclable” products such as coffee capsules, pens, or plastic gloves. In the TerraCycle recycling challenge, sponsored by Colgate and ShopRite, schools across the region compete to collect as much oral care waste as possible and send it in to TerraCycle.

A playground will then be built using the collected materials and awarded to the school that collected the most material and earned the most votes from its community members in support of the cause.

If Derynoski wins the challenge, they would become the third Southington school to benefit from the program. Flanders  and Kelley Elementary Schools  both had participated in and won the contest in the past.

“This is a great project that the students can be involved in,” said Derynoski PTO member Jill Battaglia. “It’s great that they can see that waste can be turned into something else, like a playground, and they get so excited when they see us come and collect the donated materials.”

The following items (from any brand) can be collected for the challenge: toothbrushes, toothbrush packaging, toothpaste tubes and caps, toothpaste packaging, floss containers and floss picks. Electric toothbrushes, battery toothbrushes and their parts are not recyclable through this program.

Derynoski is currently in second place out of 62 total teams. The contest began March 10 and ends June 30.

“Derynoski is a large school. We have 539 students,” said Battaglia. “Two sections of classes go out to recess at once, so roughly 180 students are out there at a time. They need a lot of play space.”

The current playground is approximately 25 years old, and Battaglia said there have been many repairs needed over the past few years. As it ages, replacement parts are harder to obtain. If the school wins the competition and wins the new playground, they are eyeing a location adjacent to the current playground.

“The students love the competition,” said Derynoski principal Jan Verderame. “It’s funny because they think it’s a little silly bringing in waste to school, but they do connect that it could potentially get them a playscape.”

Verderame said the competition is exciting to take part in.

“We really hope we win, of course,” she said. “It would be amazing to get a new playground for our students.”

There are two ways to help: online daily voting, and donating items. One single person can vote for Derynoski Elementary School once per day until the end of the competition by visiting

Collection boxes for oral waste products are set up at the Southington YMCA, the Southington Calendar House and at the school. Parents can send products in with their students to donate as well.

The Derynoski PTO has also set up a group of volunteers who can vote daily for other people. Share your name and email to and a volunteer will cast a daily vote in your name.

Once waste is collected, the tubes and brushes will be separated by composition, shredded and melted into hard plastic that can be remodeled to make new recycled products. Before donating products, be sure all excess product has been removed such as leftover toothpaste or floss. Only completely dry materials can be shipped to TerraCycle.

Each vote will count as one “playground credit,” and each unit (0.02 lbs) of oral care waste will count as one “playground credit.”

Visit for more information on recycling of non-traditional items and other programs they provide.

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