In November of 2018, MJHS senior Mackenzie Hall broadcasted an environmental conservation idea to teachers and students alike. The idea was simple: Stuff roughly 300 plastic water bottles to the brim with non-biodegradable materials, like plastic. Then, use these bottles, or “bottle bricks,” to erect a bench somewhere on MJHS’s campus.
Miraculously, the idea caught on, and for months Hall gathered supplies through friends and through the boxes stationed in classrooms for collecting plastics and bottles from students.
More than enough material was collected, and Hall hosted bottle stuffing sessions after school, welcoming anyone who wanted to help support her project.
Five months later on a rainy Saturday in April, it was finally time to build the bench.
Made up of concrete and plastic water bottles and forged by a handful of dedicated Science National Honor Society students, the semicircle-shaped bench now stands at roughly three and a half feet tall by seven feet wide in the courtyard outside the school’s cafeteria.
To remind all who see the bench what it’s made of, some of the bottle bricks are visibly protruding from the concrete shell. The top surface of the bench is painted a sky blue, stray blobs of paint purposefully left to drip down the sides. On top of the layer of blue sits the grass green-painted handprints of the students who helped Hall along the way.
The vibrant colors were specifically chosen to represent Earth’s beautiful landscape. Even more fitting for the project is that the bench was painted on Earth Day once the concrete had set completely.
Hall was the last student to splatter her handprint on the surface of the bench, adding the final touches to a feat many doubted she could pull off. Hall was thrilled to be able prove them wrong.
“It was really just satisfactory because a lot of people told me that I wouldn’t be able to do it,” said Hall.
Hall expressed her appreciation for those who helped, especially Mrs. Rainey, who was open to giving her the freedom to build the bench on campus from the moment she pitched the idea.
“It meant a lot to me because I feel like in past years I wouldn’t have been able to complete it,” said Hall.
Because the bench was so successful, Hall began brainstorming other ways to lessen the impact MJHS leaves on the environment.
“Me and Britain Steele were going to make a recycling club… and we talked to a couple of juniors about heading one up,” said Hall.
However, Hall and the senior class president became preoccupied with finishing school and preparing to graduate before plans could be discussed further. She says that they might still be able to implement some sort of recycling program in the school in the last month before graduation because she knows a few juniors who were really interested in being a part of it.
Despite how the future of recycling and conservation at MJHS pans out, Hall’s final contribution will continue to stand tall as a reminder that no matter how out of reach a goal may seem, with the right mindset and team of supporters, it is more attainable than one may think.