Simonds Elementary Kindergarten Students Spark Plastic Utensil Ban

Kearsarge Regional School District
Superintendent Winfried Feneberg
114 Cougar Court
New London, NH 03257

For Immediate Release

Friday, Feb. 15, 2019

Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 617-993-0003
Email: [email protected]

Simonds Elementary Kindergarten Students Spark Plastic Utensil Ban

Simonds Elementary kindergarten students Phoebe Esenwine, left, and William Collins, joined their classmates in collecting plastic eating utensils at their school cafeteria this January to record how much plastic was being thrown away. After presenting their findings to their school, administrators transitioned to using reusable utensils in February. (Courtesy Photo/Kearsarge Regional School District)

WARNER — Principal Timothy Stokes is pleased to announce that, thanks to the research and initiative of one kindergarten class, Simonds Elementary School has stopped using plastic utensils as of this month.

In January, a class of 11 kindergarten students and their teacher, Danielle Cormier, started collecting the plastic utensils that were being thrown away in the school cafeteria. The class collected utensils for two weeks in a plastic tote,  washed them, and counted approximately 500 plastic utensils that would have been thrown away.

Cormier said her class had become concerned by the amount of plastic they saw being thrown into the trash, and that her students were already aware about the impact plastic has on the environment.

The students asked administrators if the school could transition to using reusable forks and spoons, and Cormier discovered that the district had already been considering making the switch. Cormier met with a cafeteria employee, and found that the cafeteria already had enough stainless steel utensils to make the transition at no cost. As a result, Simonds Elementary has become the first school in Kearsarge Regional School District to stop using plastic eating utensils.

“This group of students is very empowered. They feel they can do anything they put their minds to,” Cormier said. “The students definitely know they made a change, and the rest of the students and community has been so respectful and excited about the change as well.”

Principal Stokes also acknowledged the work of Cormier, who encourages and nurtures the students’ inquisitive minds.

The kindergarten students are being assisted by their fifth grade “reading buddies” who have volunteered to wash the stainless steel utensils after lunch, to assist the cafeteria staff and prevent the transition from adding to their workload.

After counting how much plastic the school was throwing away, Cormier’s students made a video explaining their findings, the impact of plastic on the environment, the importance of transitioning to reusable utensils, and how students should take care of the new forks and spoons during lunch.

To watch the video visit, vimeo.com/manage/317489686/general. 

Their video was shown to all students and staff at Simonds Elementary at an all-school meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 6, and the school began using reusable silverware Thursday, Feb. 7.

“The transition has been going really well,” Cormier said. “Teachers are monitoring at lunch, and the students have been really great and very responsible with it.”

“I do think my students feel super empowered, being the smallest ones in the school and seeing such a big change,” she added. “Other teachers have been congratulating them and telling them what a great job they’ve done. I’m really proud of them.”

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