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GC: Meet Team Lorax

By Jessica Rodrigo
June 7, 2012 at 1:07 a.m.

Team Lorax dressed  up as hazardous materials during the Veterans Day Parade in November.  From left are Emilee Robinson, Bethany Garza, Logan Wiggen, Sarah Warner, Addie Griffith, Annilicia Aguilar, Marie Lester, Breanna Plunkett and Daniella Navarro.

Good habits are hard to form.

Not mixing whites with the darks; brushing and flossing daily; saying "please" and "thank you" are just a few.

But always being conscious and aware of recycling plastic bottles, cardboard and aluminum can prove to be a hard habit to start.

With help from the city and Victoria West High School's environmental club, students and the community can develop the habits of recycling and caring about the environment now so we move toward a greener planet for future generations.

During the 2011-12 school year, city of Victoria Education Specialist Kate Garcia met and worked with a group of students to develop good recycling habits and spread the awareness throughout Victoria.

"They're a team of about 18 to 20 students who are all very active in their school," Garcia said. "This group really cares about what happens in the environment." The group, she said, is an enthusiastic mix including band, student council members and more.

The club is the first of what she hopes will catch on at other schools in VISD or even beyond. She explained that in an elementary school setting, students can become easily involved through programs already initiated by the schools themselves through classroom recycling and other related programs.

To find the right students for the pilot group, Garcia worked with a teacher she had during her school years. Debbie Rhodes, a teacher at Victoria West, has been an integral part of the environmental club.

"We named our group Team Lorax after Mrs. Rhodes read us the Lorax in biology class," said Brittney Heibel, 16.

Last fall, the students received bright neon shirts that read Team Lorax and are adorned with truffula trees and all the names of club members.

Since its inception, members of the community may have witnessed the team out and about promoting recycling during different parades and events.

"The Christmas parade was my favorite," Brittney said. "It was so much. Everyone was waving at us."

The float for the parade was made entirely of recyclables and took a few weeks to finish, the soon-to-be-junior said. It was complete with reindeer made of recycling bins and a Santa Claus played by Darryl Lesak, the environmental services assistant director.

Garcia's collaboration with Pepsi paid off in the form of large recycling receptacles on every campus in VISD. Through the partnership, the soft drink company will pick up the bins, which are the same size as commercial dumpsters, and take them to be sorted and recycled.

The group also helps with the recycling program in the classrooms.

"We distribute the bins to every classroom and service every bin when they're full," said Jeremiah Burks, 18.

He added that Team Lorax is open to sophomore, junior and senior students who are interested in helping. Next year, the group will start again with new incoming members and continue building awareness and good habits of recycling in the Victoria community and West High School.

"You just have to love the Earth," he said. "It's a lot of fun."

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