Technology teacher C.J. Shields said he became concerned that although there were recycling bins outside the school, each classroom did not have its own collection site.
So he asked his students, through the help of grant money from the West Central Solid Waste District in Greencastle, to initiate a schoolwide recycling program.
On Thursday, Pam Burgess, with the recycling district, brought a van full of blue recycling containers for the students to place in each classroom at the middle school.
In all, students distributed some 40 bins throughout the school -- and they had fun doing it.
Students and staff at the middle school will now be encouraged to recycle No. 1 and 2 plastics, aluminum and tin cans and paper.
Burgess said she is delighted that the kids, and their teacher, have taken an interest in making sure their school helps in the recycling effort.
It's something she hopes all of the 65 schools in the West Central Solid Waste District will eventually agree to do.
"I think it is, without a doubt, a critical thing for these kids to do because they're our future," Burgess said. "I think getting the schools to recognize their need to recycle is a positive step."
As education coordinator for the recycling district, Burgess spends her days traveling to schools throughout Putnam, Parke, Montgomery and Morgan counties, offering hands-on demonstrations and fun activities for students of all ages.
She has worked for the district for only a few months but has more than 13 years of educational experience, most recently in the South Montgomery School Corporation.
"Schools produce a lot of paper and trash," Burgess said. "I think that if the kids see the school is recycling, then they're gonna be more likely to do it as well."
The idea seems to be catching on with the students in Shields' class.
Eighth-graders Keith Carr and Mallory Miller said the three-week recycling course, titled "Green Technology," has made them more aware of recycling issues.
They said they believe it is important for schools, like their own, to get involved in the effort.
"It saves more room in the landfills," Miller said.
Carr added, "And it doesn't use up our natural resources so fast."
Shields asked each of his students to conduct research and put together a class presentation on recycling.
He also emphasized the importance of alternative energy and the role it plays in helping the environment.
"I just thought it would be good to do it," he said of the class project.
"It's a hand-on, real world experience for them."
Through her participation in the project, Miller said she was surprised to learn that the United States recycles only 36 percent of its tires.
"I thought it would be more than that," she said.
Carr said he now believes schools everywhere should get involved in recycling.
"I think we could do more," he said.
Greencastle Middle School received $490 from the recycling district to get the project started. Shields hopes the program will grow and last for years to come.
Other schools can apply for similar grants by contacting the recycling district at 653-2150.
Grants are awarded on a first come-first serve basis.