Fifth-graders Evelyn Quezada, from left, Bailey Kurz, Allie Dilldine and Stephanie Duarte listen to Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers thank them for their hard work and inspiration. The girls are part of teacher George Bowman's class at Craig Intermediate School, which created a sculpture made from thrown-away plastic bottles, now on display in the Moffat County Courthouse foyer.

Photo by Collin Smith

Fifth-graders Evelyn Quezada, from left, Bailey Kurz, Allie Dilldine and Stephanie Duarte listen to Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers thank them for their hard work and inspiration. The girls are part of teacher George Bowman's class at Craig Intermediate School, which created a sculpture made from thrown-away plastic bottles, now on display in the Moffat County Courthouse foyer.

Student sculpture prompts county to buy recycling bins

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George Bowman's fifth-grade class is collecting plastic bottles and assembling them into a cube to illustrate how much trash is left behind. The class intends to display the sculpture, which isn't finished as of yet, around town.

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George Bowman, left, a fifth-grade teacher at Craig Intermediate School, listens to Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers address his students Wednesday at the Moffat County Courthouse. Bowman said he got the idea for making a sculpture after seeing all the empty water bottles students left behind after Colorado Student Assessment Program testing.

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Dalton Sirk stands near the sculpture he and his classmates made during the last two months. Bowman said he told the class to be "Dumpster divers," intending for them to look in the trash cans at CIS. He laughed when he learned that students took him at his word and literally dove inside Dumpsters for more plastic bottles.

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Commissioner Tom Mathers, left, said the sculpture inspired him to have recycling bins placed at the courthouse. He said the students' efforts were a prime example of how everyone can make a difference.

In Moffat County at least, there's no age requirement for being taken seriously.

People can make a difference, and they don't even have to be old enough for a driver's license.

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers thanked 23 fifth-graders from Craig Intermediate School on Wednesday for reminding him of a forgotten cause.

A 9-foot sculpture they made from recyclable materials moved him and the other commissioners to purchase recycling bins for each floor of the Moffat County Courthouse.

The sculpture, made out of hundreds of used plastic bottles, is on display in the courthouse foyer.

"You've started recycling at the courthouse because of this," Mathers said. "You kids made a difference."

After speaking to the class, Mathers said he was glad the students reminded him about one way everyone can help make the world a cleaner place.

The county should have shown their initiative without having to be reminded, he added.

"It just brought it back to my mind," he said. "A lot of places have programs in place, and we as a county should be front-runners to set an example."

Each of the students said they think recycling is important. After hearing that they influenced the county to change its ways, some of them said they plan to take the message home and encourage their parents to start recycling, too.

Patrick Keleher, 12, said he taught himself about the issue and that there's more to it than keeping landfill sizes down.

"It's about not having big pieces of stuff that lasts years and years and years and never goes away," he said. "If you recycle more, it means you'd have more plants open, which means there'd be more jobs for the economy."

Patrick added that he's disappointed with the city of Craig's recycling program, which he thinks is too inconvenient for people to participate in.

"It's only on the north end of town, and there are a lot of people who live to the south and to the west," he said. "For a city of 10,000 people, it's not very easy to get to."

Another student, Cristal Seniff, 11, said she liked it better when she lived in Sweden, because there they have whole landfills dedicated to recycling.

The sculpture took a couple of months for students to finish.

George Bowman, who teaches the students at CIS, said he got the idea for the sculpture when he saw all the empty water bottles students left behind after Colorado Student Assessment Program testing last month.

"We said, 'Man, let's show what we can do with all these bottles,'" he said. "This is what we came up with. I guess it was a good idea."

Janese Swindler, a parent who came to the courthouse to see her daughter, Brittany, meet the commissioner, said she was "more than impressed" with what the class accomplished.

"Our kids have to get the ball rolling for our future to be a better future," she said. "I think it's a great start."

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com.

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