Recycled glass becomes legacy art at elementary school

Future generations of elementary kids can now sit quietly at a bench lovingly made by a group of students that came before them.

During the last weeks of this school year, the public school first-graders created a “Thinking Bench” topped with recycled crushed glass and words like “puppies” and “kindness” encased in epoxy.

“The Exchange is giving away glass from Big Blue, the glass crushing machine,” explained teacher Jennifer Johnston. “They’ve challenged islanders to create something with it and my first graders wanted to participate.”

Big Blue was purchased in 2022 with generous donations from local supporters. Glass has little to no value as a recycled material and is very heavy and expensive to transport off the island. Reusing those materials on-island is much more desirable and supports ORS’s zero waste initiatives.

Each student chose a word that was special to them and might help to “cheer someone up.” The kids used Scrabble letters and then poured crushed glass in between each word. Johnston later covered the entire bench top with epoxy to permanently preserve the piece.

The completed bench sits just outside the classroom door. It was important to the students that they could use the bench in the future — even as they move up to higher grades.

“Someone may use it to just sit, rest and gather their senses or two friends may sit on it to talk and solve a problem,” Johnston said. “This is something they left as a gift for the next first grade.”

the bench