Students from Skowhegan Area High School who are members of Beecoming the Change unveil a mural Saturday at the Skowhegan Transfer Station & Recycling Center. SAHS students painted the mural to spread awareness of recycling. The mural measures 8 feet by 8 feet and hangs on the side of the building where residents can bring cardboard, paper and other recyclable materials. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

SKOWHEGAN — Members of a small group of Skowhegan Area High School students who are working to improve the community say they want to be just like bees.

The tiny pollinators, after all, have a crucial job: They carry pollen from one plant to another, allowing plants to produce fruits, seeds and young plants.

“They spread things throughout the community,” Sydalia Savage, 16, a junior at Skowhegan Area High School, said.

“We want to spread positivity,” added Layla Conway, 17, an SAHS senior.

Savage and Conway are members of the group dubbed Beecoming the Change. Composed of about 10 students, the group aims to create a positive, inclusive community.

On Saturday, members of the group revealed their latest project, a mural at the Skowhegan Transfer Station & Recycling Center that promotes recycling.

Advertisement

Masyn Atwood, a student at Skowhegan Area High School and member of Beecoming the Change, hands out informational pamphlets Saturday at the Skowhegan Transfer Station & Recycling Center. Members of the group are working to spread awareness of recycling, including through the mural in the background, which measures 8 feet by 8 feet and hangs on the side of the building where residents can bring cardboard, paper and other recyclable materials. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

The mural, which measures 8 feet by 8 feet and is painted on plywood, hangs on the side of the building where residents can bring cardboard, paper and other recyclable materials.

Its message: “Be a part of the solution. There is no planet B.”

The mural also features a peace sign laid over the outline of Earth, and, of course, a bumblebee.

“We wanted there to be a message,” Savage said.

The mural was funded by a $1,500 grant from the Semester of Service program sponsored by Volunteer Maine, the state’s service commission. The grant, which Beecoming the Change has been awarded before, supports youth-led programs in Maine’s communities in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., the Baptist minister and social activist who played a major role in the American civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until he was assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.

Beecoming the Change also organized activities to promote mental health in the community this spring as part of the grant, group members said.

Advertisement

The group works with an adult adviser, Kim Leo, but the students do everything themselves, from brainstorming ideas to making them reality. Past projects include other murals in downtown Skowhegan, clothing drives and food distribution.

“The kids are really doing all of the work,” Leo said.

The group considered several ideas for the recycling mural, and approached the town about installing one at the transfer station. Several members presented the concept to the Board of Selectmen this winter for approval.

“The kids wanted to do something with recycling and the environment,” Cynthia Kirk, Skowhegan’s waste management and recycling supervisor, said. “They came up with the idea of the mural.”

Kirk has been pushing for residents to recycle more, and the mural will help those efforts, she said. Recycling not only helps divert materials from landfills, but it also helps the town’s bottom line, Kirk said.

For example, Kirk said, Skowhegan now ships a 40,000-pound truckload of recycled cardboard every couple of weeks. At the current rate of about $123 per ton, that adds up to nearly $2,500 that the town receives for each truckload of cardboard it sells.

That revenue helps to offset the more than $500,000 that Skowhegan pays in a year for garbage disposal, taking some of the burden off taxpayers.

“The biggest part is just education,” Kirk said.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.