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JECA students making recycling a reality

It’s easy to talk about change, but it is another thing entirely to work consistently, for years, toward a goal that will change things not only for you but for those who come after you. That is what’s happening at Judson Early College Academy with the help of a very focused senior, Caroleena Mancilla, and her classmates on the Ecoscholars Committee.


“Since my sophomore year, I've heard students say, ‘Why don't we have recycling? We should have recycling,’ but there was never really a way for me to actually put it into action,” Mancilla said.


Then, she got a grant. Yes, you have heard about Caroleena before. She was awarded a City of San Antonio’s Solid Waste Management Department $5000 grant for composting and recycling. Now, that grant is being put to use to create change at JECA. 


“That's when I was like, wow, I can finally recycle at my school. I can leave my senior year knowing that I did something that is going to impact my school for years to come,” Mancilla said, smiling.


If you visit the campus, you will see a recycling dumpster. If you go on a Thursday, you will see the Eco Scholar Committee and other students filling that dumpster with recyclables. 


Inside JECA, you will see a recycling bin in every classroom. These were donated by the City of San Antonio’s Solid Waste Management Department after Mancilla reached out. You see, recycling on a large scale doesn’t happen without meticulous planning.



After Mancilla received the grant, JECA Principal Gregory Brauer, had to figure out how that grant money could be used within the framework of the school. 

“We figured out that we needed a separate student organization to direct the activities and the spending of those monies,” Brauer said. 

That’s how the Eco Scholar Committee was born. Brauer is the sponsor of the group, but he says the students are the ones doing the work. 

“The students are just so driven. I don't even need to ask a single question like, ‘Have you thought of this?’, because they already have. The Eco Scholars have been able to provide such a professional solution for our campus,” Brauer said proudly.

And, it’s not just the Eco Scholars making this work, it’s the entire student body. 




“We couldn't do the recycling without student volunteers because we're just a small committee. Every single Thursday there are about six students, and our two recycling managers, who go around and pick up the recycling, and then they throw it in the recycling dumpster,” Mancilla explained.

That recycling dumpster didn’t just appear. Obtaining it was a process, too. After searching for an affordable solution, Waste Management worked with JECA on pricing that fit within the budget. The Eco Scholar Committee decided to use half of the grant money Mancilla received to pay for the dumpster for the year. And, they are ready to apply for the grant again so that the recycling will continue.

As Brauer said, they have thought of everything. Even the future. Their plan is to use the remaining grant money on a compost project and they have big plans for Earth Day in April. 

Nothing seems out of their reach. They are problem solvers. 

“The vision for our school is to create critical thinkers and problem solvers. And I think that when I hold the vision for our campus up, that vision that we hold dear, and I see that in my students. We smile, you know. The JECA family feels good about the product we're producing, and we know our future is safe in their hands,” Brauer said.  



Members of the Eco Scholars Committee include: 

Caroleena Mancilla (President)- Senior

Abigail Mancilla (Vice President)- Junior

Celeste Anaya (Secretary)- Senior

Jocelyn Tamez (Point Secretary)- Sophomore

Aiden Coon (Treasurer)- Senior

Madeline Salazar (Historian)- Senior

Lisa Martinez (Parliamentarian)- Sophomore

Anesa Jones (Representative) -Junior

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