Black Knights go green on Valentine’s Day

Submitted Photo Silver Creek students Hannah Deike, left, and Noah Merchant, right, designed reusable shopping bags for the district’s Valentine’s Day recycling event. Chloe Vecchio, center, designed the flyer that attracted over 100 community members, students and staff to the event.

SILVER CREEK — As shoppers in New York prepare for the elimination of plastic bags – which will be banned from distribution by anyone required to collect state sales tax starting March 1 – one local school district is focusing on helping its community prepare for a new normal.

Silver Creek Central School District hosted a recycling event and invited community members to receive a free Black Knights reusable shopping tote in exchange for 10 plastic bags on Friday afternoon. Attendees were also encouraged to donate empty bottles and cans, with deposit proceeds benefitting the high school’s new Earth Club.

When all was said and done, the Black Knights estimate they collected 4,500 single-use plastic bags and about 400 bottles and cans. And for their participation, about 130 eco-minded community members, staff and students walked away with brand-new, reusable bags designed by students Hannah Deike and Noah Merchant.

“We love the Earth,” said science teacher Megan Kucharski, who noted it is no coincidence the drive was held on Valentine’s Day ahead of Earth Day, which is celebrated annually on April 22. “We wanted to bring awareness about the bag legislation as well as climate change to our community.”

All of the bags collected will be recycled. The event was promoted via a colorful flyer designed by student Chloe Vecchio, and the public’s response to the drive was overwhelmingly positive.

“We really wanted to do something for our community and encourage them to show love for where we all live this Valentine’s Day,” agreed science teacher Cheryl Smith, who was surprised and pleased by the overwhelmingly positive response the event received from families.

“And with everyone talking about the plastic bag ban, we saw it as an opportunity to connect with our Silver Creek community and bring awareness to the changes that are coming,” Smith added.

The drive was arranged and organized by the high school’s new Earth Club and the middle school’s Science and Technology Club and Junior Honors Society. The drive and collection were sponsored by the Silver Creek Teachers’ Association, the middle school principal, Eleanor Payne, and the high school principal, Tom Buczkowski.

They pooled funds to purchase the 300 reusable bags. After all the bags were claimed, at about 4 p.m. Friday, the students working the event made sure to take down the names and contact information of those who did not arrive in time to secure a reusable bag to let them know when they will be available for purchase at the school.

Students volunteering at the drive were pleased by the robust attendance and concern for the planet. They are excited to start seeing more community members with Black Knights bags in hand as they shop locally.

“It was a true community event,” said student Ellie Decker of the local support shown for the drive. “It was fun seeing so much love for our community and each other.”