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Incline Middle School partners with UNR on Innovative “Trash to Treasure” project

July 10, 2024 | Member Submitted

Originally Published in LIVE.WORK.PLAY, Summer 2024 edition

A recent project at Incline Middle School (IMS) has led to cleaner shores at Lake Tahoe and fostered creativity and environmental stewardship among students. The innovative “Trash to Treasure” program was part of IMS’s weekly Exploratory curriculum, offering hands-on experiences beyond traditional academics.  

The project began in the fall with the robotics class identifying areas needing cleanup. This led to a series of “community clean-up days,” during which nearly 500 pounds of trash were collected. Phase two involved University of Nevada Reno, Lake Tahoe student Callia Schell, who helped students transform the collected waste into art.  

Schell, a student in the University’s interdisciplinary service-learning pathway, proved instrumental in guiding students through the artistic process. Collaborating with IMS teacher Ginny Holmes’, Schell taught students to imagine, design and create tangible art pieces while also learning how to be good stewards of Lake Tahoe.   

The students’ creations were as diverse as they were inspiring. From bottle cap flowers to captivating mosaics of Tahoe, they repurposed the collected trash and brought their artistic visions to life, while simultaneously advocating for environmental sustainability. Their efforts culminated in building a landscape of Lake Tahoe, serving as a reminder of the natural beauty they strive to protect. The artworks were exhibited at the UNR Holman Arts Center.

Students were also able to enroll in an IMS video production class. Under the guidance of Incline local Baxter Gentry, they produced a compelling PSA advocating for the preservation of Lake Tahoe. Students created slogans like “Love Our Lake” and “Don’t Mess with Tessie” and recorded a rap song at Tanglewood Productions in Reno.

The Trash to Treasure project received support from the Incline Education Fund (IEF) and the Tahoe Fund. IEF Co-founder Mary Danahey hopes the partnership model between IMS, IEF, and UNR will inspire similar initiatives, fostering innovation and environmental consciousness for future generations.

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