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Students recycling messages grace side of city refuse trucks
Solid Waste Supervisor Rexie LeStrange, left, and Stella Brockman Principal Candace Espinosa right, poses with the students that submitted winning entries in an art contest for Manteca refuse trucks. The students are, from left, Mark Villalobos, Mia Rodrigues, Alyssa Hanson, Rebecca Sylar, Julia Fikes, and Mateo Mates. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Julia Fikes has a message — don’t trash the earth.
And to make her point, the 11-year-old Stella Brockman School student came up with art work that shows two solid waste workers struggling to jam  the earth into a garbage truck with the words “don’t throw it away.”
Her art work is among 12 winning entries in the City of Manteca Solid Waste Division contest to come up with fresh message art for their fleet of collection trucks. Most cities opt to go for professionally done messages but Manteca thought it would be more effective to use the creations of those who are on the frontline, so-to-speak, of the efforts to change how we reduce garbage.
The winning entries were blown up on weather resistant material using Manteca’s share of California redemption proceeds that must be used for educational efforts. And what better way to educate the public than having students learn a lesson at the same time by creating unique public service announcements?
Seven of the winning entries were from Stella Brockman School. As a result, seven solid waste collection trucks pulled up to the front of the campus on Thursday allowing the solid waste workers to pose for photos with the students. Solid Waste Supervisor RAexie LeStrange also presented each winner a $25 Target gift card. Individual photos of the students with a solid waste worker and their art on the side of a truck will appear on a weekly basis on Page A2 of the Bulletin with recycling tips from the city.
The five other winning entries were from Joshua Cowell School and Shasta School.
Manteca Unified elementary students were on the vanguard of Manteca’s rollout of food recycling last school year using orange carts. LeStrange said student volunteers tasked with making sure waste goes in the proper carts in school cafeterias have been extremely vigilant and effective.
“Kids are great messengers.” LeStrange noted. “They learn about recycling and protecting the environment and then take that message home.  They actually practice what they preach.”

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email