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Pittsburg's Foothill Elementary School students, Giovanni Fuentes, 9, Frederick Fulsaas, 9, Axel Ramirez, 9, Daniel Cornejo, 9, can't believe their eyes as they watch Roy's Comedy Magic show as a reward for winning first place in the third annual Recycle Bowl, a national competition among participating elementary schools, junior and high schools in Pittsburg, Calif., on Tuesday, March 10, 2014. (Dan Rosenstrauch/Bay Area News Group)

PITTSBURG -- Foothill Elementary School took first place in the third annual Recycle Bowl, a national competition among elementary, junior and high schools to determine which one does the best job of keeping cans, bottles and paper out of landfills.

The designation means that Foothill Elementary recycled more materials per student than any other of the more than 1,000 schools that competed in a four-week long period ending Nov. 15 of last year.

The event is sponsored by the nonprofit Keep America Beautiful and Nestle Waters North America. The participating schools diverted about 6.4 millions of recyclables from landfills nationwide. Pittsburg Unified also took top honors for competition at the school district level, with 15 schools recycling 695,238 pounds of recyclables.

At a ceremony for students held in the multipurpose room soon after the school bell rang Tuesday, Foothill Elementary was presented with a $2,500 check from Nestle for winning the school level competition. The school will also receive $1,500 worth of Busch Systems recycling bins and a Trex Co. park bench made out of recycled materials.

In all, 81,797 pounds of recycled cans, bottles, milk cartons and paper products were recycled at Foothill Elementary, which works out to each of the 521 students enrolled at the time recycling 157 pounds of materials.

"I shoot the cans into the bins," said third-grader Morgan Sanders as he motioned with his hands. Recycling is a good thing, he said, "because it is better not to let trash go everywhere."


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Not having trash go everywhere is the whole point of the competition that helps children learn about the importance of recycling, according to Jennifer Jehn, president and CEO of Keep America Beautiful.

"We are working hard to keep America, clean and green and vibrant. When you recycle, you make a big difference," she said. "It comes back to life as something new."

Foothill Elementary Principal Enrique Pin praised the students for their efforts. He also gave a shout out to school custodian Steve Butler for getting the students excited about recycling.

"I didn't know we we're going to be No. 1 so fast," Pin said. "I see them in line recycling everything."

Not only that, but students are learning the finer points of recycling, such as when they don't finish their milk. "They're draining the milk from cartons before they put them in another bin," he said.

The school plans to spend the proceeds from the $2,500 prize to buy more books and to support an after-school tutoring program, Pin said.

Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.