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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A salute to Nashville's recycling star

The picture of Sherry Force on the plaque in her honor to hang at Granbery School

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood at Granbery School in Nashville on Earth Day where the memory of environmental heroine Sherry Force was honored with an outstanding tribute.
"Happy Earth Day" proclaims the banner hanging at the entrance to Granbery School/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Hundreds of Granbery students, graduates, parents, and friends, many wearing green, turned out for a celebration of Sherry’s life.
,The "Gecko Echoes," a Granbery teachers' chorus, sang We are the World and Sweet, Sweet Spirit in tribute to Sherry Force/Photo by Patricia Leslie 
Members of the "Gecko Echoes" who paid tribute to Sherry Force in song are Scott Adkins, Kate Affainie, Lana Bogie, Lanee Ferguson, Daniel Hayes, Theresa Hill, M.L. Morlock, Carol Scruggs, Angela Spiller, and Stacie Stark/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Chirping birds in the trees sang with the children's and teachers' choruses which made melody with the flutists and original poems students composed to commemorate the achievements of Ms. Force and the Granbery community over the more than 20 years she directed the school's recycling program. 
The Oliver Middle School Flute Choir, under the direction of Susan Waters, played at the memorial for Sherry Force at Granbery School/Photo by Patricia Leslie

In 1989 with a single newspaper bin, Sherry started up recycling at Granbery.

Her teachings over time about the values of protecting the Earth literally affected thousands of students who enlightened their families about new practices which soon became habits.

Long before anyone knew what "wet dry" was all about, Ms. Force implemented a food composting program at Granbery, a model copied by the Tennessee Department of Corrections which was able to reduce its solid waste budget by 75 percent.

Under her leadership, the school earned local, state, regional, and national awards for environmental awareness and action.  
Sherry Force/SEIU

Many recycle every Saturday at Granbery where Ms. Force never failed to show, come snow, ice, piercing sun, or holiday.  It didn't matter if Christmas Day fell on a Saturday:  She was there.

On cold winter days she served cups of hot chocolate to volunteers, and in the summer, popsicles.  Sherry's liberal leanings occasionally got her into trouble and almost cost her job, she said last June, but she grinned and bore it and proudly recycled on.

Last December she was felled by sudden illness, but her spirit and legacy did not die.  Her efforts will live for a long time as Granbery children educate their own children who will teach still more about the importance of preserving the environment and making it better.  Her spirit can always be found, floating around those bins.

Sherry Force died December 19, 2012 at Vanderbilt Hospice.
At the Granbery celebration these boys read poems they composed in tribute to Sherry Force/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Granbery students sang What a Wonderful World and This Land is Your Land/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Granbery kindergarten teacher M. L. Morlock sang In My Life/Photo by Patricia Leslie
These students read poems they had written to honor Ms. Force and said they learned "one person can make a difference," just like Ms. Force said/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Lori Donahue, Granbery principal, praised Sherry Force and announced the creation of a scholarship in Sherry's honor which will send a student to an environmental camp/Photo by Patricia Leslie

A representative from the mayor's office read a proclamation commending Sherry Force.
The students were perfectly poised and listened attentively throughout the 45-minute program/Photo by Patricia Leslie
A student held the plaque dedicated to the memory of Sherry Force/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Jessi Force, Sherry's daughter, greeted friends and families after the service/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Student ushers stand beside the dogwood tree planted at Granbery School in Sherry Force's honor/Photo by Patricia Leslie

1 comment:

Debra Lynn Paxton said...

I am so saddened to hear of Sherry Force's passing... she indeed made this world a better Son attended Granbery Elementary in the 1990s, a Fantastic school, and, it's all true, she was so faithful to the cause of excellent stewardship of our Earth and all its resources. She even gave out precious tree saplings at times, one of which my Son, Jonathon Escobedo, and I planted in the backyard; a Redbud. Bless the memory of Sherry Force, Environmental Champion. P.S. Jonathon and his family are avid recyclers ♡