A Westerville North High School student is in the running for SWACO's first teen Emerald Award.

A Westerville North High School student is in the running for SWACO's first teen Emerald Award.

The fifth annual Emerald Awards, presented by the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio, will be presented May 13 and will honor individuals and companies for their focus on the environment.

North sophomore Amelia Pierson is one of three finalists for the first "Young and Green" award, which honors students ages 12-18 who have shown strong environmental commitment, initiative or leadership.

Pierson, 16, was nominated by science teacher Kyle Campbell for her involvement in the school's Recycling Club.

"Students come and go, but Amelia has stayed with her commitment to recycling," Campbell said. "She is a primary example of caring for the environment."

As Recycling Club vice president, she has made sure every teacher has a bin in which to place paper for recycling. The club has established Thursdays during eighth period as a scheduled pick-up time for the bins, but she gathers up paper from overflowing bins during her seventh period.

Pierson and other club members take most of the paper to a special dumpster outside for recycling, but save some of it and make recycled paper themselves to be used for hall passes.

"We cut them up and put them in a blender with bleach," Pierson said, describing the paper-making process.

The paper sludge is mixed with water and placed in a screen. The water drains out, leaving paper scraps behind, which dry into a light gray rough sheet of paper that measures about 5 inches by 7 inches.

Teachers in the science department use the paper to write hall passes, but Pierson hopes to have a stamp made that will make the passes more uniform and will allow faster production so more teachers can use them.

"If we could make a big stash of them, we could use them for the whole school," she said.

Pierson said she became interested in recycling through the Ohio Energy Project, which she was introduced to in elementary school.

Pierson, who will be president of the Recycling Club next school year, has also begun work on some other projects, including a mural created with leftover paint dropped off at hardware stores. The mural, which advertises the club, is partly finished. Handprints will be the foliage on a painted tree, underneath which sit a variety of happy-looking animals.

Pierson also hopes the club's candy wrapper jewelry might be sold as a fundraiser to help bring can and bottle recycling to the school.

"I feel like you don't have to be military about it," she said of making "green" choices. "Just do what's convenient. If you just do a little bit, if everyone does a little bit, it can make a difference."

The Emerald Awards ceremony will be held from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. May 13 at the Aladdin Shrine Center, 3850 Stelzer Road, Columbus.