CASTRO VALLEY -- Castro Valley High School rolled out compost bins this week to start collecting lunchtime food scraps.

"This was a student-led effort," said Nicholas Whitaker, leadership/activities director at the school.

Last spring, students from the Leadership class and Smart Energy Club did a waste audit at the school with the help of the Castro Valley Sanitary District.

"We took garbage from two days, took everything out of the bags and sorted it. We found that only 20 percent of what was thrown away was trash," Whitaker said.

About 20 compost bins were put in the cafeteria and courtyard beginning Wednesday. Volunteers, who dubbed themselves the "Compost Squad," are monitoring the bins for the next couple of weeks to help students figure out what to recycle, what to compost and what to toss.

Based on the audit, if Castro Valley High were to recycle or compost everything possible, the school could knock $30,000 off its garbage bill, which was $50,000 annually before last year. Thanks to recycling and kitchen composting efforts that started this past year, the school already has saved $10,000 a year, said Jordan Figueiredo of Castro Valley Sanitary District. Castro Valley High was certified as a green ribbon school in June.

"Our goal is to build a culture of being more environmentally friendly," Whitaker said.

Fremont student raises funds for quake-damaged Japanese communities

A Fremont eighth-grader raised and donated about $1,200 to help rebuild Japanese communities that were destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.


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Era Iyer, a student at Stratford Fremont Middle School, designed and sold coffee cups to raise the money. Iyer then donated the money to The American Red Cross Silicon Valley Chapter, which collected more than $30 million in relief funds for Japan's disaster-ravaged areas.

"Once I heard how my contributions helped, I realized that there was nothing better than knowing you saved someone's life," Era said.

The South Bay nonprofit organization recently honored Era¿ for her charitable efforts.

"We couldn't be more proud of Era and her willingness and passion to help others," said Chelsea Evjenth, a Stratford School spokeswoman.

Renovated Newark playground the first project funded by Measure G

The Newark Unified School District has renovated a playground at June Whiteford Preschool, whose student body is comprised mostly of special-needs students.

The renovation, which began in July, was completed earlier this month at a cost of about $48,700, said Laura Johnson, administrative assistant in the district's business services department. It was the district's first completed project funded by Measure G, a $63 million bond that voters approved in November to modernize Newark schools.

The new playground features a new rubber surfacing that provides a safe and clean environment for preschool-age students, allowing children of all abilities to play together there, Johnson said.

College fair for middle school students scheduled Tuesday in Union City

Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, is inviting middle school students and families in the New Haven Unified School District to attend a college fair on Tuesday.

The event is scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. at Cesar Chavez Middle School at 2801 Hop Ranch Road in Union City.

The goal of the event is to provide information about college options as early as possible for students and their families, Wieckowski said.

"This is an opportunity for families to learn how to financially prepare for the college journey and to take advantage of the many resources available," he said.

For more information, call Wieckowski's district office at 510-440-9030.

Homeroom is a weekly roundup of news from schools in greater Hayward and the Tri-City areas.