Cash for ‘Coke’: Claremore Teacher Fights Budget Cuts

recyclingWe are all aware of the budget crisis facing Oklahoma schools. One Claremore teacher is doing her part to give back, and encouraging students to do the same.

Lynn Steidley teaches Pre-Engineering classes for Northeast Technology Center at Claremore High School, in which students have a unit on recycling. Bothered by all of the plastic being thrown away at our school, Mrs. Steidley’s 1st period Principles of Engineering class decided to try and make an impact by:


  1. Recycling the plastic bottles at the school.
  2. Reduce the amount of trash the teachers have to carry out each day (a shortage of funding has decreased the custodial staff and the teachers are taking up that slack by emptying their own trash.)
  3. Entering Coke product codes from the bottles they collect and donating them back to CHS at $0.05 a lid.

Claremore High School is a “Coke” school, so all of the vending machine and concession stand drinks are Coca-Cola products. Mrs. Steidley’s students have been going to football games and picking up bottles, setting up recycle boxes inside the high school, and visiting with teachers to help collect. Each student has an account and they enter the codes and donate often. The students currently have over 600 lids that they are waiting to enter in hopes that Coke offers a double or triple bonus. It’s a slow process, but the students are working hard to make a difference. They have earned close to $100 and have taken 10 huge bags of plastic to recycle. Coke sends a check after each quarter, provided there is at least $25 in the account. The project just started in October, so the first CHS check should arrive in January. Money will go to CHS to buy needed items, such as copy paper.

CHS principal Mrs. Garroutte made an all-call and now parents can send lids to the class, as well. There is a weekly limit and at some point, volunteers will be needed to enter codes. Families can sign up for their own account and donate, too.

Ideally, Mrs. Steidley would like to get the Mr. Murph recycle containers at CHS. Owasso has these containers at 25 locations, mostly schools and churches, and they are filled up weekly. The nice thing about them is that donors can put plastic, paper, cardboard, and aluminum cans all in the same container…no sorting! Mrs. Steidley contacted Mr. Murph and apparently the containers used to be in Claremore, but had to be removed them because they weren’t profitable. Mrs. Steidley is still working on what it would take to get them back in Claremore. If the containers get filled enough, both the school and the recycling company can make money.


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