Scarselli parent nominated for "hometown hero" award |

Scarselli parent nominated for "hometown hero" award

by Merrie Leininger, Record Courier

Students at Scarselli Elementary School decided one parent volunteer needed a little special recognition for the work she has done to change the community’s ideas about recycling.

Kris Freitas was picked in a school-wide survey as the person to be nominated as hometown hero in “Time for Kids” magazine.

Students in Sherri Battcher’s 4th grade and Brenda Downs’ 2/3 multi-age class at Scarselli got input from the whole school. The person nominated has to be committed to the environment and work for long-term changes. The winners will be featured in the Earth Day edition of Time for Kids.

Freitas is the mother of two Scarselli students, Natalie, who is in 2nd grade, and Alyson, a 4th grader. Another daughter, Kassidy, 4-1/2, will start school next year.

Freitas has been volunteering at the school since 1996 and organized the placement of a large recycling bin outside the school. “Big Blue” is a collection point for plastic, glass and aluminum. She also wrote a grant that allowed the school to install playground equipment made of recycled materials.

“Kids can see one of the things done with the materials they recycle is the playground equipment we now have,” said SES Principal Betsy Palmer. “It’s really a neat thing. She has continued to promote recycling. She’s even gotten calls from Realtors who use the recycling bin as a real selling point. It gets emptied every three weeks. That’s a lot of recycled materials. She’s really been instrumental with that.”

And she’s not stopping there. Freitas said she has big plans – she is working toward having paper product collection bins and eventually, hopes to see a Big Blue at every school in the district.

Freitas said she was “just happy to be nominated,” and gave a lot of the credit to Jeanne Lear of Douglas Disposal, the school staff and the Douglas County commission.

Freitas said she knew something was going on, but didn’t know about the nomination until a ceremony Tuesday morning.

“They interviewed me in Mrs. Battcher’s class. They kept asking me all these questions and she asked me to bring in articles I had about the recycling program and how I wrote the grant, but I had no idea,” Freitas said. “I was really honored. I was really tickled. They had to have four pieces of paper (for the nomination), but it didn’t stipulate the size. They used four big posterboards with all this information about me. They put it in a big tube and mailed it to New York.”

The students’ nomination “form” included testimony from individuals about how she changed their lives and their attitudes about the environment.

Freitas, who is also the president of the school’s Parent-Teacher Organization, said that was her intention.

“I think it is the perfect opportunity to plant the seed with the kids. I wanted them to also teach their parents. It’s like the seat belt thing. I can’t get in the car any more without my kids saying, ‘Seat belt.’ I figured probably the most captive audience was the kids. A lot have really turned around their whole program at home,” Freitas said. “It’s really changed their lives. They’re aware of the environment more and know what recycling means. Tuesday, they sang a song about Big Blue. It changed the way the kids look at their resources.”

Winners will be notified by March 15. The magazine plans on printing a “hometown heroes hall of fame” with 50 runners-up, in addition to the five winning adults and five winning kids.