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Reducing disposable bottle waste at Hahn Elementary

By: Stephanie Derammelaere
January 24, 2020

Marguerite Hahn Elementary School will be sporting a new water bottle filling station in front of the school this semester thanks in part to the Rohnert Park Foundation small grants program. The school received $3,000 to purchase the new station which will replace a traditional water fountain that had been there since the school first opened in the mid-1970s.

“We noticed [the need for the water bottle filling station] last year at our PTA events,” says Rachel Hankerson, Principal of Marguerite Hahn Elementary School. “We’ve been trying to have food and drinks at all of our events for our families. What we realized is that we were giving away a lot of plastic water bottles that then fill our landfills. So, we started talking about the possibility of having reusable water bottles as part of our spirit wear and then had a station for kids to fill them up during the day and also at our events.”

After talking with the maintenance crew to make sure this would be possible, Hankerson then applied for the grant. The Rohnert Park Foundation grant will cover all the costs of the materials, but installation costs will be covered by the school’s PTA. The station will still feature a regular water fountain, as well as a spot to refill bottles with filtered water. Also, having the station in front of the school will allow the public to use it as well.

“Our PTA is really doing a great job and stepping up and doing great things,” says Hankerson. “We have a lot of parent nights and I think it’s nice for them to have filtered water. It feels like a nice touch. It’s not a necessity but if I have a choice to have a bottle of water or drink out of a regular drinking fountain I would probably choose the bottled water unless I have the option to fill it in a filtered station. It’s trying to encourage our families and our kids because it’s really better for the environment to use refillable water bottles, but also making it a nice system so they’re more willing to do that.”

This grant is the second one the school received, last year having received $5,000 to purchase approximately 600 large Imagination Playground blocks for the students’ creative play. The blocks, which are used daily by the children to build and act out a variety of fantasy sets from boats to forts, would have been unattainable to purchase through the school’s regular budget. The grant helped them afford these blocks that, while not a necessity, is something that really sparks the creative minds and imaginations of the students. 

“It’s amazing how all the kids, even up through 5th grade, play with them,” says Hankerson. “It’s really giving kids who don’t necessarily like to play sports something to do during recess. I always wished the kids could play with something like Legos, but the problem is that Legos would get completely lost on the playground. It’s cool to see their imaginations. The things that they build are so cool.”