Debra Norby-Colgate’s fourth-grade class

Members of Debra Norby-Colgate’s fourth-grade class at Longfellow Elementary School accept a $100 check Tuesday from the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association’s Chaffee Green Sustainability Program. The money will help the school replace its plastic cutlery with metal cutlery. From left front are Brailee Maurer, Mikaela Elvin, Elena Castro Guzman, Kaleb Tanyi and Skyler Raby. Second row: Caleb Kolander, Zane Boyle, Jordan Standaert, Casen Pridemore, Fletcher Mattix, John Fast, Tao Adams, Orion Post and Corven Pearson. Third row: Norby-Colgate, GARNA youth program coordinator Emily Henderson, Avery Tischer, GARNA Executive Director Dominique Naccarato and GARNA community outreach coordinator Hillary Malloy. Top: Elii Martin, Evanlee Garcia-Butler, Mayleigh Duran, Lucille Roberts, Harley Romero, Sydney Jackson  and Litzy DeJesus-Torres. Also in the class is Karsyn Thorpe.

What started with a report on plastics ended with students taking action. While preparing the report, Debra Norby-Colgate’s fourth-grade class at Longfellow Elementary School saw lots of pictures of plastics that had ended up in the ocean and the subsequent impact on animals.

The class decided to do something. Their plan was to replace the school’s plastic cutlery with metal sporks.

A group of students wrote a letter to the school board. Another group figured out how much it would cost to make the switch.

The class then hosted a movie fundraiser, with several groups of students in charge of different functions.

The cost group determined it would take $373 to replace the cutlery.

The Greater Arkansas River Nature Association’s Chaffee Green Sustainability Program donated $100 to the students Tuesday, bumping them over their goal. The donation put the class’s total amount raised at $390.38.

GARNA Executive Director Dominique Naccarato said the Chaffee Green Sustainability Program and Sustainable Salida volunteers had deep conversations with the students when they were third-graders about single-use plastics and were inspired when they took action this year.

“I think it’s huge to refuse and reuse where we can and help kids understand that those plastics never go away,” Naccarato said.

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