Vienna students deliver recycling message via trash truck

trash truck photoJeremy Huang's artwork

Artwork with environmental messaging by two Vienna elementary school students – Jeremy Huang, currently a fourth-grader at Louise Archer, and Reese Leviyang, currently a third-grader at Marshall Road – now graces one of the Town of Vienna’s trash/recycling trucks. The students are among 180 at the two schools who participated in a project-based learning opportunity last year to “turn a trash truck into a public advertisement that advocates for increased recycling.”

The town recently has “wrapped” one of its trucks with oversized vinyl decals of Huang’s drawing featuring environmentally conscious worms on one side and Leviyang’s of a rainforest on the other. The truck made its debut at last night’s annual Town of Vienna Halloween Parade.

Leviyang, who is 9, says he’s “really excited” and “happy” to have his rainforest drawing on the truck because it was a lot of hard work, requiring a great deal of detail and reworking. As for the meaning of his artwork, Leviyang says: “You should recycle basically to make the world more beautiful.”

Reese Leviyang’s mural

The Madison Pyramid schools’ project-based learning initiative seeks ways to connect what students are learning in the classroom to real-world applications. Six second grade classes at Marshall Road and two third-grade classes at Louise Archer worked on the trash truck project last academic year to create designs that would encourage recycling.

“Students applied their knowledge of our planet and the environment and their creative and critical thinking skills to their designs to encourage better care of the earth,” says Louise Archer third-grade teacher Jo Ann Smith. “Students were able to apply their learning in an authentic way, which is the focus and heart of project-based learning. Being able to connect with real life in their community has impressed and influenced them in a way that they will not forget.”

Marshall Road Principal Jennifer Heiges says that the project “caused students to think deeply about both recycling and their community. Students were very engaged and excited. They would come in each day and ask when it was time for their trash truck activity.”

Huang, who also is 9, confirms that he enjoyed the project. “I liked how it involved learning and art at the same time because I like drawing as you can probably tell.” He adds that he’s “proud and slightly nervous” about seeing his artwork on a truck around Vienna.

The truck with the students’ artwork will be utilized daily on the town’s sanitation routes to collect trash and recyclable materials.

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.