Derynoski school earns a new playscape

Students at Flanders play on the new school playscape in 2015 that was won during the TerraCycle Recycled Playground Challenge. Derynoski Elementary School is the third Southington school to win the challenge.

One of Southington’s elementary schools has been crowned “runner-up” in the TerraCycle recycling challenge out of 62 total teams. Derynoski Elementary School will receive a playground made out of recycled materials that is valued at approximately $25,000.

“Our PTO is very happy to take these first steps to revitalize the play area at Derynoski,” said PTO member Jill Battaglia. “The current playscape is 25-plus years old, and has needed several repairs, so having some new equipment that more kids can play on will be wonderful.”

TerraCycle recycles 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. Items, including toothbrushes, toothbrush packaging, toothpaste tubes and caps, toothpaste packaging, floss containers and floss picks were collected for the challenge. Items could be from any brand.

To create the new playscape, TerraCycle collects all of the donated oral waste products, then separates the tubes and brushes by composition, shredding and melting them into hard plastic that can be remodeled to make new recycled products.

To be successful in this year’s contest, Derynoski Elementary School called on the community to support their efforts by helping with donations of products and by daily voting.

“The community support of this project was incredible, and our school community really appreciates everyone who helped with voting and collecting oral-care waste,” said Battaglia.

During the 2017-18 school year, there were 539 students at Derynoski School. Two sections of classes go out to recess at once, so roughly 180 students are outside at the same time.

While the PTO awaits specific details, they remain hopeful to install the new playscape sometime in the fall.

“We will once again be looking for volunteers to help with installation,” said Battaglia. “We are looking at an area separate from the current playscape, so it gives more play options to the large amount of students playing outside at recess at one time.”

Superintendent of Schools Tim Connellan said the event is a testament to the PTO that showed how much support parents provide schools across the district.

“This was a team effort spearheaded by the Derynoski PTO, but there were contributions from many members of our community, other schools and PTOs in town and staff members,” said Connellan. “In addition to the science and environmental aspects of the project to which our children were exposed, it demonstrated a sense of community and provided a positive example of how people can live and work together for a common goal.”

Derynoski now joins both Flanders and Kelley Elementary Schools in the ranks of contest winners. All three schools have now participated in and won the TerraCycle recycling challenge.

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