PITTSBURG -- It's not even St. Patrick's Day yet, but Pittsburg High has green on its mind.

For the past few weeks, students have been living the "reduce, reuse, recycle" mantra.

"I think it's really incredible what these students are doing," said Erick Valenzuela, teacher and co-adviser of the Activists Club.

The club, made up of about 15 students, spearheaded the initial eco campaign on campus.

The idea sprung from "their interest and participation in recycling here," Valenzuela said.

That simple act has morphed into the school-wide Green Challenge with "a lot of help" from the city of Pittsburg and Mt. Diablo Recycling.

Since January, the city's Laura Wright has been working with Mt. Diablo Recycling's Nicole Impagliazzo, and Pittsburg High staff and students.

Wright said her first step was to think of a way to engage the entire student body, and that's how the Green Challenge was born. It gives each class (freshmen through seniors) a chance to outdo each other in the recycling arena.

Other layers of the program are on deck, including artists' contributions and green video submissions.

"Pittsburg High students have a lot of spirit," Wright said. "They love service ... they do a lot for the community -- blood drives, food drives ... They're absolutely amazing."

An assembly honoring and awarding participants is set for early April. Class winners can earn monetary prizes.

Wright said the enthusiasm of the students has been inspiring. "They're really wrapping their arms around these new concepts. I've really enjoyed watching them."

Valenzuela said, "The goal is ultimately to become a zero-waste campus. We have a huge student population, which can generate a lot of trash." The plan is to start with the recycling basics and eventually include separating compostable materials.

"We want all students to 'think' green and do the right thing for our campus and the community," he said.

In addition to Valenzuela, Angel Calderon and Mario Mendoza help advise the group.

Right now, club members have a pretty big to-do list, which includes collecting recycled goods throughout the school twice a week and cleaning up a neighborhood park on a regular basis. Another focus of the group is to bring a green awareness to the rest of the student body.

In addition to its green shades of good, the Activists Club is focused on "making students aware of things happening around them in the community and on local levels." Valenzuela is pleased about having the Green Challenge for the students.

"The city and recycling center have been very generous," he said. "It's a great opportunity for the students to earn some money. I think it's a great lesson in stewardship, taking pride in our school and community, and acting in more responsible ways."

Contact Trine Gallegos at trineg@att.net.