The Hillsboro Online Academy took first in its classification for the Trex Plastic Film Recycling Challenge.

Students at Hillsboro Online Academy, the online school of the Hillsboro School District, is used to living in the digital world, but students in the program have collected more than 1,000 pounds of trash over the last few months. And they're winning awards for their work.STAFF PHOTO: OLIVIA SINGER - Students from the Hillsboro Online Academy pose with just a fraction of the recycling collected by the students and staff.

The school's 174 students have collected 1,425 pounds of plastic since January, making them the winner of the Trex Plastic Film Recycling Challenge.

Trex Company, based out of Virginia, takes recyclable materials, like plastic, and turns it into outdoor products including decks, outdoor kitchens, fencing, miscellaneous outdoors games and, well, benches.

The online academy competed against other schools across the Northwest, and ended up taking home gold.

This is the second year that the Hillsboro School District has participated in the challenge, according to Hillsboro Online Academy office manager, Kristina Estrada, who organized the clean-up.

"Being as competitive as we are, we were like, 'Okay we're gonna win this'," she said.

The school will receive the bench made from recycled materials from Trex Company as the first place prize, which will be placed near the school's playground to be used as a "friendship bench," Estrada said.

When the students realized they were in second place just two weeks before the challenge came to a close on April 15, they upped their efforts and brought in an extra 600 pounds of plastics in 14 days, Estrada said. Some students gathered unwanted plastic from local companies, but the majority came from the plastic used in each of their homes, she said.

While the competition was fun for the students and staff, Estrada hopes the students take home a greater lesson from it all.

"I hope they actually came to realize how important this is," she said. "On our social media, we've been putting out videos about how damaging the plastic is to the environment. Hopefully they have that awareness, and hopefully that awareness sticks with them."COURTESY PHOTO: HILLSBORO ONLINE ACADEMY - Students pose with the bench from Trex, which they won in the recycling contest and will be putting near the playground.

When the bench is installed, Estrada said, students will be able to use as a way to make friends.

"If there is a shy student, or someone that doesn't have anyone to play with, they can sit on the bench and other students will hopefully see and include the student in their activity," she said.

By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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