Martinsburg High students honored for going green

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By Jenni Vincent, 
The Journal (Martinsburg)

MARTINSBURG -There was no mistaking how happy Berkeley Community Pride officials were to have chosen three Martinsburg High School students as the recipient of their annual green award -a proud moment that was also shared by family members as well as the teacher originally responsible for overseeing this project.

Science teacher Renee Haines came to help honor her students - Jenevieve Molenda, Micheal Weust and Taylor Grove, all juniors - as they were recognized for an ongoing project that began in her classroom."They deserve all the credit," she said.

Their collective efforts focus on recycling compact fluorescent light bulbs - an academic exercise that's touched a responsive chord with local citizens after the trio were able to take their project public last year.

Before outgoing president Dave Ranck presented the 2014 award, secretary Lisa Arias read the nomination which explained why the three students - who were sophomores when they started this CFL program -are worthy of being formally recognized for their environmental efforts.

"It began as a simple science project in the international Volvo Environmental Summit which tries to heighten students' interest in improving the local environment. As the enthusiasm of the students grew, it quickly developed into a nonprofit, countywide environmental effort that is reducing controllable mercury waste in the community," Arias said, adding that the students had also developed a specially designed container to hold the bulbs.

"The young environmentalists have continued to encourage the recycling of these potentially hazardous light bulbs at Berkeley Community Pride paper drives, by collecting and arranging for them to be recycled," she said.

Students, who also credit the Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority for their support and help with bulb recycling, plan to work with area businesses that may be interested in serving as a drop-off point.

They are also hoping that other MHS students will take over this project next year when they graduate and prepare to go to college.

Grove said he was proud of the "action plan" that has guided this project and made it successful.

"And I think getting this award will really move things ahead in the future, because it gives us more credibility when we approach other organizations and businesses to help us do this kind of recycling," Grove said.

Molenda, agreed, adding, "It has been a learning curve, but the more we do, the more we want to do."

Ranck, who paused momentarily as proud family members and others in the audience applauded the students, said the award is a symbol of the trio's "outstanding efforts to help protect our local environment. They have been great to work with at our recycling drives and they certainly deserve this award."

In addition to their hands-on efforts, the students also have a post online at, which explains the importance of this project and the potentially serious impact of CFL disposal in landfills since they small amounts of mercury - a poisonous gas.

"Though breaking one bulb in your home won't harm you, hundreds of thousands are deposited in our local landfill each year. The mercury in these bulbs escapes and pollutes our water and local landfill each year," the post reads.

Recycling is easy since all that is required is bringing burnt-out bulbs to a collection site and depositing them in the receptacle made to house them.

"We'll take it from there. Together we can flip the switch on controllable mercury pollution. CFR recycling: It's a bright idea," the post reads.

Weust said this is the right time for more people to do CFR recycling, "especially since Congress has outlawed the incandescent bulb, the CFR will become the new standard."

Anyone interested in helping or seeking information can email the students at