Gillis helps spearhead recycling effort |

Gillis helps spearhead recycling effort

Cindy Ramunno

When Harrison Gillis walked into Battle Mountain High School as a freshman, he was stunned. The school didn’t have an organized recycling effort, and Gillis wanted to make some much needed changes in that area. “I was appalled that we didn’t recycle at our school,” remembers Gillis. He tried to begin the recycling effort that year, but wasn’t successful. That changed during the next year.

In his sophomore chemistry class, he noticed that the teacher had recycling bins in the back of the classroom. “At the end of class, Mr. Stralendorff asked students to sort their used products, instead of tossing them trash can,” says Gillis. The intelligent Gillis took advantage of the opportunity and approached his teacher after class. With Stralendorff’s help, Gillis ” now a senior at the school and set to graduate ” spearheaded the now successful recycling program at Battle Mountain. Through his continued efforts, the school is consistently recycling. In addition to all of the time he’s put into recycling, Gillis has been involved in other school activities that include speech and debate team, National Honor Society and student math tutoring. In the community, Gillis has helped with the Special Olympics and Christmas food baskets.

“The Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability (EVAS) donated three recycling bins for every classroom at Battle Mountain,” explains Gillis. Gillis and his teacher were in charge of emptying the bins and auditing. They began emptying bins after school each Thursday, with students who were serving detention. Recently, they have emptied those bins Thursday mornings with cognitive needs students who are performing work study.

During his senior year, Gillis became concerned about what would happen to the program once he graduated. “We worked out a plan to ensure the future of recycling at Battle Mountain,” says Gillis. Now and next year, during advisement period (also Thursday mornings), teachers can elect to send two or three of their students to help with the efforts. Gillis applauded teacher efforts ” “Many teachers are interested in taking it on ” and now it’s much more manageable.”

Gillis is heading to Indiana this fall to attend the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. There he will pursue a degree in engineering ” civil, electrical or mechanical. Gillis’ parents have always valued education and have always encouraged Gillis and his younger brothers to do well in school and pursue higher education. And, of course, they recycle in their home. “I was raised with environmental ethics,” Gillis adds.

Gillis emphasized that the valley’s recycling efforts need some improvement, too. He ends by saying, “People and businesses need to realize that if everyone takes the time to sort, it saves time and it’s good for our valley.”

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