HOPE VALLEY — Students at Hope Valley Elementary School gathered in the cafeteria on April 4 to celebrate the arrival of the school’s new water bottle filling station.
Fourth grade teacher Jennifer Ricci organized the assembly.
“The Greenlove Foundation has donated a water filling station to us, and we’ve been studying how to be environmentally-friendly. Our fourth-graders have been going around talking to the other classes, doing skits and teaching them what to recycle,” she said.
One of the school’s major environmental initiatives is the elimination of single-use plastic water bottles, and the filling station will make it easy for students and staff to fill their reusable water bottles.
“We’re really trying to move away from single-use water bottles, to reusable water bottles,” Ricci said.
Based in Newport, the Greenlove Foundation was founded in honor of Kendra Bowers, who died at the age of 19 in a skiing accident. Bowers, who was studying environmental science at the University of Vermont, was a passionate environmentalist, and her family established the foundation in her honor, to support environmental initiatives. The foundation has so far donated 17 water filling stations to 10 Rhode Island schools.
Foundation President Katherine Bowers, Kendra's mother, said the water filling stations were a valuable tool in the effort to reduce plastics pollution.
“We’re focusing on the reduction of single use plastic and we’re doing it through the installation of water bottle filling stations in schools and recreational areas,” she said.
The water filling station was installed in the cafeteria a couple of weeks ago, and the children have had training sessions on how to use it.
Hope Valley Principal Giuseppe Gencarelli said the students had all been asked to bring reusable bottles to the assembly.
“To support the Greenlove Foundation, to show that we are using reusable water bottles, not plastic,” he said.
Ricci said the PTO had also purchased reusable shopping bags and the children had been invited to design a logo for the official school shopping bag.
“The fourth grade designed a logo for that and the kids are going to find out today who the winner is,” she said.
The winning logo was designed by Bryton Lindberg, who received a loud round of applause. Lindberg’s design will appear on the school’s reusable shopping bags, which will be distributed to all the students.
Standing with her husband, Michael, Katherine Bowers thanked the students and staff for organizing the assembly and for their environmental initiatives.
“I want you to know that every single time that you use your reusable water bottle, you are making a difference for our earth,” she said. “It’s a very small gesture, but all the gestures put all together, are going to make a big difference. So keep that in mind, that you are part of the solution and not part of the problem.”