Instead of the traditional plaque to honor their achievement, members of the state volleyball champion team at Yarmouth High School requested these more environmentally friendly and sustainably made mugs. Contributed

YARMOUTH — After the girls volleyball team at Yarmouth High School repeated as Class B state champions this past fall, they “respectfully declined” to accept the traditional plaque often presented to winning teams by school leaders, according to team captain Caeden Rogers.

Instead, the team asked for their accomplishment to be honored with a more sustainably created award, which is why they ended up with paper certificates and individually crafted mugs handmade by a local artist.

“With everything that is going on in our world today, we thought that it was important to take a stand,” Rogers and fellow team member Kaitlyn Bennett told The Forecaster. “Now is the time to protect our environment (and) this is just one way to help.”

The volleyball team at Yarmouth High School repeated as Class B state champions on Nov. 1. File

“The plaques that teams have gotten in the past are not environmentally friendly and do more harm than good. By respectfully declining the offer of the plaques, we are taking a step to help the greater good. Our team is making a difference. One small step, even if it is a small step, is helpful,” the girls said.

The mugs were made from clay by Aymen Khaleel, a student at the Maine College of Art, who is originally from Iraq. Rogers said what made them more sustainable is that no chemicals were used to create the mugs and that “clay comes from the earth and will go back to the earth.”

Rogers said when the volleyball team won the state championship in 2018 it received plaques, but this time around the team wanted “a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative.”

She said the team first approached Athletic Director Dave Creech with the idea and both Creech and the School Committee “were in full support.”

“Hopefully they will take our request as a first step to reviewing their procedures and making changes necessary for the good of our planet,” Rogers and Bennett said.

School Committee Chairwoman Anne Fleming said Monday that the School Committee “has not presented plaques for state championship victories in several years. We do present the student-athletes with a certificate, which the team members received at the meeting.”

She said more substantial awards are most often presented by the athletic department in conjunction with the boosters, and “we would encourage the students to work with (them) to decide upon any commemorative items.”

Rogers and Bennett both said this week that parents and players “were supportive of our decision to get mugs instead of plaques this season. A few people have come up to us mentioning how they loved our idea of a more sustainable option; outside of our team, not many people know that we are doing this.”

Rogers said a team parent first suggested the idea of the handmade mugs and the whole team felt “this was a great alternative to the plaques that are made from unsustainable materials (and that) may end up in a box in the basement or attic or tossed into a landfill, thus hurting the earth.”

While it’s not common knowledge that the volleyball team had concerns about the more traditional plaques, Rogers said, “we hope people will notice the difference that we are trying to make and follow in our footsteps.”

“We kindly urge the Yarmouth School Department to offer more environmentally friendly options when recognizing students’ accomplishments and to forego the presentation of plaques. The whole goal of this was to protect our environment,” she said.

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