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Each year, fifth-graders at Maumee's Fort Miami Elementary look for a way to leave their mark on the school.
This year, students not only created a colorful spot for kids to sit while they wait for the bus, they put to use the skills they'd learn about recycling and reducing waste headed for the landfill.
"Our whole new push for recycling and green school and green Earth - we've been teaching the students for several years now about that," said Erica Reid, a parent who helped with the legacy project. "It was kind of amazing how it came full circle."
For three Fridays after school in April and May, Mrs. Reid took a group of fifth-graders to a downtown Toledo warehouse designated for the ZeroLandfill project. The International Interior Design Association of Toledo worked with a northeast Ohio group called ZeroLandfill to collect materials that otherwise would have been discarded in a landfill and then made them available at no cost to artists, educators, and others who could put them to good use.
Mrs. Reid said students dug through building materials and product samples and picked out what they liked.
"There were a lot of artists there so the kids felt cool because they were artists too," she said.
Much of what the fifth graders brought back to school was incorporated into a bench perched near the school's front doors. Various colors and styles of tiles were broken into pieces and adhered to a concrete bench in a mosaic form.
The bench and grout were donated, which made the project a low-cost endeavor.
"It's a permanent piece for the school," Mrs. Reid said. "It's actually beautiful. I'm really proud of them."
A plaque dedicating the bench to the school from the fifth graders is to be presented to Principal Dwight Fertig on the last day of school June 5.
Another parent, Heather Cole, said the legacy project was a great way to cap off a series of "sustainable art" projects at the school this year. Fort Miami received grants from the Maumee Schools Foundation and Interface Global to help bring students from Bowling Green State University to the school to lead seminars that were environmentally minded with an artsy twist.
Students made kites out of paper bags, dog food scoops out of laundry detergent bottles, and other projects, she said.
"The whole ZeroLandfill project was a perfect addition," she said.