On a portion of Springfield Elementary’s 32-acre campus is an old playground.

Students in Anne Glawe’s fifth-grade Gifted and Talented class, who are working with Greenwood County Litter Prevention Coordinator Maggie McMahon, want to recycle it.

They imagine a friendship bench here, a pollinator garden there, all while making old back into new.

Hopefully, a micro-grant through the state Department of Health and Environmental Control of up to $2,500 will aid them.

In November, the agency will announce winners of its 2018-19 Champions of the Environment grant contest. If Springfield’s project is chosen, it would be the second Greenwood County School District 50 initiative to win funding, after Eleanor S. Rice received a grant in 2012-13 to create erosion control mechanisms.

McMahon, who was hired over the summer, said involving herself in efforts such as that at Springfield Elementary is a fundamental part of her job.

“Ultimately, if we’re not teaching the kids and children in our schools that, ‘Hey, don’t throw that Coke bottle out the window,’ what’s going to prevent them from doing it,” McMahon said. “With kids, if you show them what litter does to the environment and you let them have a part in it, it sticks in their mind.”

She’s also forged a partnership with Keep Greenwood County Beautiful, the volunteer organization behind Lake Greenwood cleanups.

Johnathan Graves, chairman of the nonprofit and also the district’s community services coordinator, said having McMahon on board allows for greater flexibility.

“There’s nobody that does that for their full-time job, so it’s great to have a Greenwood County liaison that actually has different tools and resources that they can share with us that’s going to benefit our group,” Graves said. “Since she’s been in her position, that’s the thing I’m seeing.”

McMahon has been able to lean on her relationship with Keep Greenwood County Beautiful to interface with individual classrooms through the district interested in litter prevention and other environmental issues.

That’s why she’s been involved guiding Glawe’s students through the process. They’ve learned about e-waste, upcycling, the long-term ecological impact litter has as it gathers under Lake Greenwood’s waters.

Liam Frederick proposed school officials look into replacing plastic cutlery in the cafeteria with metal.

“If we just junk them, we’re wasting thousands and thousands of forks and spoons, and then we buy more. Why don’t we just wash them,” Frederick said.

His classmate, Beau Lawrence, said trashing the lake and other fragile ecosystems worries him.

“Certain things take longer to decompose and since they take longer to decompose, more animals might think it’s a food source, and they might get choked or die,” he said.

Contact staff writer Adam Benson at 864-943-5650 or on Twitter @ABensonIJ.