OLEY -- An ambitious girl scout troop that saved enough plastic bags to win a contest donated their prize winnings to the Oley Valley School District.

Oley Girl Scout Troop 1645 donated a bench and birdhouse made entirely of recycled materials at the June 20 school board meeting. The Trex company, sponsor of the contest and maker of the bench and birdhouse, awarded the items to the troop after the girls collected a total of 61,852 recyclable plastic bags.

The idea to collect the bags began when members of the troop were looking for a project that would help them earn a badge. After voting to enter the recycling contest, the girls secured the cooperation of school officials and began collecting bags from high school, middle school and elementary school students last November.

With Trex providing bag collection boxes and much-needed moral support, the girls continued to collect, count and re-bag their collections throughout the school year. The project ended, appropriately, on Earth Day (April 22, 2012).

Heather Ulrich, troop leader, admitted the collection project entailed a massive amount of work. 'We spent many nights in our garage, counting and sorting bags, and there were multiple trips in our van to take the bags to recycling,' she said.

With the thanks of school board members, the bench and birdhouse were officially donated for use by the middle and elementary schools, respectively. The two schools were credited with collecting the most bags for the project.

Dr. Tracy S. Shank, school superintendent, said the bench would be placed in the middle school courtyard while the birdhouse would be placed in the elementary school's 'butterfly' garden.

In other business, the school board awarded a plaque to retiring board secretary Janet E. Keehn. Keehn, who will retire from the board but continue her duties with the district, was honored for her 16 years of service.

Shank announced that the district would be closed the week of July 2.

Board members Carl J. Kubitz, Jr., Dr. Robert J. Cappa and Sherry L. Shultz did not attend the meeting.

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