Students at Fishburn Park Elementary are learning lessons in the classroom and the cafeteria. "It's teaching them a habit, a life long habit," said Fishburn Park Principal Judy Lackey.
What's called a Focus School for environmental science, Fishburn Park is the first Roanoke City school to begin composting. "They can use and understand that they're helping the earth by reducing heir waste in the landfill," Lackey said.
Following breakfast before school, it's tough to watch kids like kids at other schools and even at home waste food. Some of it is uneaten or unopened but the school is unable to be serve it again. "It's amazing when you help them with the composting how much we do throw away," explained science teacher Tom Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick says while they're working to reduce overall waste, they're also teaching these kids to put what is wasted to good use. "Once they learn what to do, they're pretty complaint," he said. "They're actually more complaint than the adults sometimes."
That first school year in 2008, Roanoke City Public Schools composted more than 13 tons of waste. Since then, additional schools have joined in. In 2010, the number increased 132 tons. In 2011, it was up to 259 tons. Last school year, more than 20 schools combined composted 298 tons.
"It's just the right thing to do. It has decreased our dumpster dumps by 50%." Fitzpatrick explained. That number is expected to grow as now less than a month into the new school year, all Roanoke City Schools are taking part.
Some of the composting is actually returned to the schools in the form of soil they use for gardens and even worm farms. It gives students a chance to learn how their efforts are put to work.