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The Lasso in the News-Press: Recycling & MacBooks in Schools

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The Falls Church News-Press has partnered with George Mason High School’s award-winning newspaper, The Lasso, to bring its readers some of the top articles appearing in the student-run digital paper. This regular feature will appear monthly in the News-Press during the school year. The Lasso can be found online at www.gmhslasso.org.

Time for Mason to Step Up Its Recycling Game

This recycling container is one of two in the cafeteria. They are both in the back, next to the microwaves. (Photo: Caroline Perez)
This recycling container is one of two in the cafeteria. They are both in the back, next to the microwaves. (Photo: Caroline Perez)

By Caroline Perez

As students, we all have a lot on our minds: Next class’s test, the load of homework due tomorrow, or a big game coming up. It’s reasonable that sometimes we just want to do things the easy way. But I don’t think it’s too much to ask not to blatantly throw a plastic water bottle into the trash, when it is just as easy to put in a recycling bin nearby. This is an issue that has bothered me for a long time, and it has gone on for far too long.

Every time I sit in the cafeteria, I cringe when I see someone walk right by the recycling bin to throw away their bottle in the trash. Granted, the school could do a better job of labeling and having more of the recycling bins, but they are there, located in the back, next to the microwaves. At most, no matter where you are sitting, you are just a few feet away from one.

It’s the same in the classroom. There are too many instances where I see a bottle in the trash when there is a recycling bin right next to it. It takes an equal amount of effort to just put it in the right container.

Why Is It Worth the Effort?

When waste is thrown in the trash, it goes to a landfill to decompose. While some materials don’t take as long to decompose, plastic takes 450 years, which is among the longest for materials.

Since plastic wasn’t invented until 1907, every single plastic product in landfills has yet to decompose. In addition, new plastic is constantly being made in factories. So while bottles are thrown away and put into landfills, more plastic continues to be made, thus creating an enormous build up of plastic. If a bottle is recycled, the plastic is kept out of landfills and used again, helping to maintain the total levels of plastic.

With that being said, the United States alone throws away 2.5 million plastic bottles per hour – and that’s just in the US. That many plastic bottles are put into landfills every hour, in which they will sit for the next 450 years.

Not only does it create a build up, but the materials and energy in those bottles are essentially gone forever. Once they are in landfills, there is no way to retrieve the bottles. The components can not be used again, and more must be created.

So next time you have a plastic bottle to throw away, I urge you to take the extra 10 steps to recycle it. Although it may not seem very influential to just recycle one bottle, every little bit truly helps.

 


 

Why We Need 1-to-1

By Kate Karstens and Jack West

Senior Bikash Shahi (right) works on an assignment with Mr. Larcamp using his school-issued Macbook. (Photo: Eric Clinton)
Senior Bikash Shahi (right) works on an assignment with Mr. Larcamp using his school-issued Macbook. (Photo: Eric Clinton)

In the last couple hours, I have completed my math homework, read the powerpoint from notes I missed in biology class, and started this piece for journalism class, all on my MacBook Air. Please don’t take it away.

I could understand a logical argument if there was significant tax money involved, but in this case it was a grant. No taxes were raised, no FCCPS parent had to chip in extra, and there was no negative impact on the community.

While I am an eternal fan of the classic classroom environment with just a teacher and their students, this environment is not jeopardized by these laptops, as teachers control when students have them out.

About eighty percent of all my classwork, quizzes and tests are online on our MacBooks now. Having work online opens up more opportunities and advanced tools to help us learn in every subject. In math class, we can now use online calculators to solve advanced equations; in science, we can do online labs that don’t require materials and specific teacher supervision; in English, we can use websites that have books online.

Particularly for a school that supplements an online newspaper, these laptops are essential to maintaining a constant stream of news updates to the site and enabling the editing process to flow out of the classroom to wherever students may go.

Many of the adults in the community believe that George Mason went too far when they created the 1-to-1 program. I invite those adults to step into the classroom and see the balance that many of our teachers have found.

There will always be abusers of the system: Kids who watch Netflix instead of listening, kids who will peruse social media instead of following along on PearDeck, kids who will cheat on Schoology quizzes. But there have always been system abuses and there always will be, regardless of what technology is in use.

Our administration has trusted us with these learning enhancement tools and we, as students, have gladly accepted the challenge.

The possibilities in each class are endless with the MacBooks and we haven’t even seen the bulk of these possibilities. We are constantly evolving our technology at Mason with the help of some of the best IT workers around.

Every year there are more and more things that our school puts on our MacBooks that help us learn. We will never fall behind in this technological stampede.

We are always evolving, and if we were take our first step back by getting rid of the MacBooks, we might not be able to keep going forward. Mason would not be where it is now without our technology.

Mason has prepared its students to go to the colleges we want to and get the careers that we get because of our technology enhancement tools.
Technology at Mason has become an essential tool in and outside of the classroom. Our school encouraged our educational development when they applied and received the grant for these laptops. Please don’t take them away.

 


These articles plus more from The Lasso available at www.gmhslasso.org.

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