herndon high school, herndon, virginia

september 2004

Herndon High School's Green Flag Team, SAGA - Students Against Global Abuse, has been around since 1989, coordinated by Herndon Science teacher, Gary Gepford. Since then, the group has developed the most comprehensive recycling program in Virginia schools, recycling an average of 100 tons of paper and other wastes annually. As a consistent recycling center, the school group serves not only to recycle their own waste, but that of local businesses, schools and community members as well. Businesses drop off their white office paper, which the group sorts and bundles. Mr. Gepford delivers the recycling to the recycling center, and receives anywhere from 1.5 cents to 6.5 cents per pound of white paper. The money earned since 1989 has totalled over $250,000 in profits. The group reinvests the profits into their program in a variety of ways: they give scholarships to graduating seniors from SAGA, built a greenhouse to grow native species collected from soon-to-be developed areas, and then replant the plants in forested areas, and have used the money to invest in reforestation. SAGA has earned over 18 community, state and national awards, including the American Forest and Paper Assocation's National School Recycling Award for the top school (including elementary, middle, high and colleges and universities) recycling program in the nation.

The thirty plus person SAGA team's commitment to environmental consciousness extends beyond school boundaries. Student particpants question, "If recycling is so great, why doesn't everyone do what we do?" With this question in mind, Mr. Gepford and SAGA promoted Green School legislation for the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Green Schools Lesgislation, patroned by VA Senator Janet Howell, and Delegates Ken Plum and Tom Rust was signed into law by VA Governor Mark Warner on April 15th, 2004, and subsequently became law. Click here for pictures of the event, and the legislation text.