Counting caps

Kade Kull, Brycen Ward and Chance Billingsley sort bottle caps as part of an ambitious recycling program they are spearheading at Moulton Middle School in Shelbyville.   

SHELBYVILLE – Finished with that water bottle? Chance Billingsley of Shelbyville wants the cap. Laundry detergent bottle empty? Kade Kull will take the top. Done with the butter tub or cottage cheese? Brycen Ward is ready to take the lids, clean them and use them as part of an ambitious recycling project the three seventh-graders will hope leave a lasting legacy at Moulton Middle School.

Billingsley, Kull and Ward are attempting to collect 400 pounds of plastic lids to recycle into a sturdy outdoor bench for the school grounds. The project is part of teacher Jenny Gergeni’s “Power Hour” a 48-minute enrichment period.

“The class gives students a chance to learn something they wouldn’t learn during core classes,” Gergeni said. “It’s also a chance for them to learn leadership skills and teamwork.”

Teachers at Moulton had brainstormed Power Hour ideas over the summer. When an assortment, including the ambitious recycling project, were presented, the three boys jumped on it.

“The first part of the job was research,” Kull, 12, said. “We had to look online and find the place who makes the benches.”

Billingsley, 13, said the boys contacted Green Tree Plastic of Evansville, Ind., learning it would take 400 pounds of bottle caps and lids and $360 to create the sturdy outdoor bench they wanted.

“So then we had to talk to Mr. Tomblin,” he said.

Moulton Principal Russ Tomblin said he held several meetings with the boys, determining how to collect and more importantly, where to keep their growing cap collection.

“Every potential problem I mentioned, they found a way to address,“ he said. “After that, they took it to the school leadership team and presented the idea.”

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Ward, 13, said students and teachers bring their caps to collection boxes in the school.

“Then we all get together with everyone else in the class and wash them,” he said. “Mr. Tomblin was worried they would smell or attract bugs so they have to be cleaned.”

The boys have spread fliers throughout Shelbyville asking for cap donations and have set up at a school carnival and athletic events to rescue water and soda bottle lids from the trash. Donors can leave their plastic caps and lids in the school lobby.

“We have six trash bags full but it’s going to take a lot more,” Kull said. “Then we will have to figure out a way to get the money we will need.”

The students hope to have the project completed by the end of the school year, but if it goes into their eighth-grade year they’re all right with that.

“It’s been fun,” Ward said.

Billingsley, a student council member, hopes fourth- through eighth-grade students at Moulton will vote on the color of the new bench when the time comes.

“It would be cool if everyone had a chance to vote,” he said. “Then they can see what we were able to make from their trash, and I think it would be something to be proud of.”

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