It’s 7:45 in the morning and a fourth grader at Isla Vista Elementary arrives for school, clutching his mother in one hand and an aluminum can in the other.
The can, which he diligently places in a large blue bag, may only be worth five cents when recycled, but after months of collecting cans and plastic bottles, students at I.V. Elementary School hope to raise enough money to send the fourth, fifth and sixth grades to science camps around the state. This is just one example of how I.V. Elementary is trying to go green, all the while teaching the youth of Isla Vista the importance of recycling and community goals.
Working under their Coins for Camp program, the parents and students of Isla Vista Elementary School – which suffers from a 70 percent poverty rate among the school’s families – recycle cans and plastic bottles in order to contribute to the fundraiser. Parent volunteers collect the recyclable material, mark it with a classroom number and take it to the recycling center. All money earned from the recycling is placed into account funds for each grade.
For a school whose mascot is the World, it’s only fitting that recycling play such a key role in their fundraising efforts.
“Our mascot,” Principal Lisa Maglione said, “shows that we are the keepers of the earth and each other.”
Maglione stressed that the whole purpose of the campaign is to involve as many people as possible and foster a sense of community.
“This is a real community school,” Maglione said. “Kids walk and ride bikes to school. We want the kids to think about doing good things for others.”
Dana Ochoa, a Parent Teacher Association member who is involved in the Going Green campaign, pointed out a brown paper bag filled with cans and plastic bottles displayed in the teacher’s lounge. According to Ochoa, the faculty members serve as important role models for the students when it comes to recycling.
“What is amazing is that teachers are bringing in recycling for the cause,” Ochoa said. “The students are learning from example.”
Maglione said that the fundraiser has even crossed language barriers and told the story of a Spanish-speaking mother who donated to the Coins for Camp cause.
“We fundraise through Vons and eScrip,” Maglione said. “There was a mother who heard about Coins for Camp through Latino Parent Night and wanted to help collect receipts. She did not know where the Vons on Fairview was, but she took a bus to an unknown location to ask for receipts for her child. The first words she learned in English were, ‘May I have your receipt, please?'”
Despite language and cultural barriers, parent volunteers collecting bags of recyclables find a common means of communication.
“It’s hard to understand each other sometimes,” Ochoa said, “but we still recycle together.”
Other green practices at the elementary school include efforts to incorporate sustainable foods from farmer’s markets into student lunches, cell phone recycling, low flow toilets and hosting the Isla Vista Food Co-Op at Latino Parent Night to teach healthy eating alternatives.
Cans for Camp is only one component of the fundraising, as parent payments, matching funds, grants and UCSB also play a role in sending the students to camp. Fourth graders will attend camp at Tall Ships, the fifth graders at Camp Whittier and the sixth graders to Camp CIMI on Catalina Island. This will be the first year the fifth graders will go to science camp.