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School Pride in Action Committee members and students make a difference in their schools


The School Pride in Action Committee (SPiA), a subcommittee of the Hampton Clean City Commission, is comprised of representatives from each school in the division. School Pride in Action members came together on a monthly basis during the 2021-2022 school year to plan, promote, and implement environmental education within their schools and the surrounding community.  


Many of the members have been working within their schools to start (or restart in some cases) recycling. The city of Hampton’s public works department partnered with six schools on a pilot recycling program. Public works donated large gray rolling recycling totes for the schools and added the schools to their collection routes. The schools participating in the 2022 recycling pilot project include Barron Elementary School (Pam Berry and Kim Gerzak), Forrest Elementary School (Ginger Spencer), Langley Elementary School (Anna Jackson and Julia Martel), Lindsay Middle School (Tiara Kersey), Mary Peake Elementary School (Michael Behan), and Phoebus High School (Ryan Reynolds). Public works delivered the recycling totes to the School Pride in Action representatives and their student recyclers in May and conducted quality control checks to make sure only recycable materials were being added to the totes at the bi-weekly collections. 


Several School Pride in Action members submitted grant applications on behalf of their schools to askHRgreen. Forrest (Ginger Spencer), Kecoughtan (Sally Lewis), and Mary Peake (Michael Behan) were all awarded grants that enabled them to purchase classroom recycling bins. In addition, HCS director of community and legislative relations Ann Bane generously funded the purchase of classroom recycling bins for Barron, Langley, Lindsay, and Phoebus. Dr. Daniel Bowling, HCS chief operations officer, ensured that the bins were delivered to the schools.  


Under the guidance of Hampton High’s School Pride in Action representative Ashley Ault, students in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program designed and created a meditation garden in a courtyard at the high school. The meditation garden was conducted as part of an interdisciplinary project-based learning experience for IB students. Ault arranged to have the city of Hampton community gardener coordinator, Wendy Iles, and master gardeners Melanie Libby and Betsy McAllister on hand for the groundbreaking. Iles, Libby, and McAllister spoke with and answered questions from students and donated plants for the garden.


Students from the Kecoughtan ecology club, under the leadership of Sally Lewis and Sandra Hooper, staffed an outreach table at the Hampton Clean City Commission Earth Day event on April 23. The students created a game to educate youth on materials that can be recycled by households in the city of Hampton.  


Led by SPiA representatives Michele Ferrel and Paula Larson, Kilgore Gifted Center fourth graders conducted 12 litter cleanups over the course of the year. The students also hosted an environmental fair on May 11. Student groups conducted research on an environmental issue of interest to them. They then wrote a research paper, worked collaboratively to develop a display board, and presented their research findings at the fair. Students also had the opportunity to visit the outreach booths of environmental groups such as Sandy Bottom Nature Park, Hampton Master Gardeners, Hampton Clean City Commission, and the Hampton Roads Tesla owners. In the spring, students put in a pollinator garden that has been certified through Bee City Hampton.


Michelle Bowers’ first graders from Armstrong School for the Arts created their favorite storybook character using recycled materials for Earth Day. Art teacher Debbie Taylor’s third grade students used recycled cardboard to create art using the techniques of famed American sculptor Louise Nevelson for Armstrong’s Celebration of 100 Years of Art Through the Ages at their 100th anniversary.