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Jack Swindler is a fifth-grader at Southside Elementary but he is already a leader, working with school administrators to start a recycling program among the students and staff. He wrote a letter to the teachers that explained, “I’m part of the TAG [Talented And Gifted] program, and I qualified for leadership. As a leader, I want to help this school recycle.”
Southside Principal Suzanne Burkhardt said the students are familiar with ways to help the environment since the school has an Energy Team, made up of students, including Jack.
Headed by teacher Karen McPherson and assisted by District Energy Manager Sherman Adams, the student team checks on lights being turned off when no one is in a classroom during the school day as well as computer monitors at the end of the day. Adams called the students “Super Stars” at a recent school board meeting, when he gave his periodical energy savings report.
Burkhardt said she is pleased to see the children have another opportunity to get involved in conservation. “I’m so impressed with Jack’s initiative,” she said. “He identified a need in the community and determined a way to serve.”
She was referring to the portion of his letter to the teachers that described, “One day I was at Metzger’s, a pet shop, and there were many cats and dogs in cages waiting and waiting for their new home. I knew that I wanted to help. I want to help those cats and dogs by raising money for the Woodstock Animal Foundation and Metzger’s.
“I knew that 300 brains are better than one brain, so I decided that I wanted the school to help me.”
When he met with the principal, “she said it was just amazing,” Jack said, raising his eyebrows and grinning real wide. “It will help the school feel better while helping the cats and dogs.”
He researched and found that there is a recycling center in Frankfort “and it gives you money for aluminum. I thought that we could recycle, bring the aluminum to the place in Frankfort, and together we can donate the money to Metzger’s in Simpsonville. We should donate the money to the pet shop because the money can help the cats and dogs have better futures.”
Jack, 11, is the son of Jamie and Jon Swindler, and he has collected glass bottles for his grandfather to take to the local recycling center. “I have even become interested in collecting some,” he said, waving his arms real wide as he said, “I have a great collection.”
Southside has placed recycling cans by the stage in the cafeteria. He is waiting to take his first load home “where I will put it away from bugs and things before I can get it to the recycling center some Saturday to get my money.”
He also researched leaders as role models once he was identified for the gifted program. When asked to name his favorite leader, Jack looked off into the distance and placed his hand on his chin, “I would have to say...Abraham Lincoln. He was a great president!”
When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Jack said, “That’s a very good question. I want to be a leader, helping in, like, the environment with recycling and saving energy.”
He’s on his way to reaching his goal as the E-mail Jack sent to the teachers challenged them to “please encourage your students to use the recycling bins in the cafeteria. Together we can save the earth, and the cats and dogs.”
Duanne B. Puckett is public relations coordinator for Shelby County Public Schools.