WYANDOTTE, Okla. — A group of seventh graders from Trinda Crow’s art class at Wyandotte Middle School created a 3D sculpture out of recycled materials and won first place in a Keep Oklahoma Beautiful contest last month.
“We were given the task of taking trash or something damaged, and make it into something that was usable, like art or a piece of furniture,” said Crow, art instructor with the school district.
Dacey Brown, 12, Margaret Tanner, 13, Keran Bentley, 12, Abygail Clapp, 12, and Addison Campbell, 12, used damaged books in October to build a multidimensional sculpture to emphasize the importance of recycling.
For the Keep Oklahoma Beautiful contest the girls call their project “Page Turner,” and it now hangs in an office conference room next to the first place award plaque.
“We don’t want to waste books, and we want to keep them around instead of just getting rid of them,” Margaret said. “They’re still useful, and this gives them a purpose.”
The classmates designed the sculpture and looked up videos on YouTube on how to fold the pages. There are four main books, and each one is folded differently with the pages creating an array of designs. Some of the pages were rolled up into long tubes while others were crafted into shapes and flower designs. The boxed frame around the books was made out of recycled wood.
“They pretty much took off with it, and it was a cross-curricular project because we had Tech Ed build the frame,” Crow said. “Dacey Brown took the student lead on the project and wrote an essay in her English class.” Three departments collaborated on the effort.
The girls also submitted a shared essay outlining the significance of recycling and how it affects future generations. Dacey said they did research about recycling in their own community and incorporated that into their effort.
“If we, our class, had to change one thing about the world it would be for every person to recycle,” their essay stated. “We want the best for the world and we want our environment to be clean and we want our world to be a happy place. If everyone can work together on this our crops can grow faster and can grow healthier. When we recycle we can have a healthy environment and we can have easier lives.”
Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, a statewide nonprofit, recognizes Oklahomans doing their part to preserve the beauty and sustainability of the state. The organization held its 29th annual Environmental Excellence Celebration on Nov. 22 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
“In November, we were notified that we were a finalist,” Crow said. “They sent out a ballot, and each school was responsible for obtaining the votes. All of the different schools from all over the state got to vote, and we ended up being in the top three. It was voted on locally on a school and community level. They only had about 10 days to vote. It was shortly after that when we were invited to the dinner as one of the top three finalists.”
This year, over 85 individuals, communities, businesses, municipalities and other entities from across the state were recognized for their work in the past year.
The Keep Oklahoma Board selected seven individuals or groups as recipients of the board commendations awards, and the Wyandotte team was one of them. Crow said the students didn’t know they had won first place in the category called “Upcycled” until after they arrived.
“I was shocked when I found out we won because everybody did really well,” Dacey said. “I knew we had a chance, but we’re just a really small school. We were up against some pretty big schools.”
The classmates said that they’ve learned that they can achieve more if they set their minds to a task, especially through the process of creativity and imagination.
“You can turn anything old into a beautiful piece of art,” Abygail said.
Keep Oklahoma Beautiful is a statewide nonprofit with a mission to empower Oklahoma residents to preserve and enhance the state’s natural beauty and ensure a healthy, sustainable environment. For more information about the organization, visit keepoklahomabeautiful.com.