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New playground at John H. West Elementary School in Bethpage made of recycled dental products

Fifth-graders Ava Bassolino, Lauren Marino and Nabiha Ameer,

Fifth-graders Ava Bassolino, Lauren Marino and Nabiha Ameer, students at the John H. West Elementary School in Bethpage, gathered with their teachers and staff at their new playground. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Students from John H. West Elementary School in Bethpage won a new playground made partly from used toothbrushes, floss, and toothpaste tubes and caps that they collected for more than a year.

The school won first place in this year’s Colgate and ShopRite Recycled Playground Challenge, in which schools earn credits through a combination of the number of online votes and the amount of recycled oral care waste, according to the contest website. “They are so proud of themselves," said Principal Carol Muscarella after the ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday. "They feel so a part of it."

To build the playground, used dental products and discarded packaging were combined with high-density polyethylene, said Sue Kauffman, a spokeswoman for TerraCycle, the Trenton, New Jersey-based recycling company that built the playground.

Equipment includes monkey bars, a climbing wall, bridge ladders, a tunnel, a slide and a playhouse, said Muscarella.

The school recycled 706.72 pounds of waste, said Kauffman. About 470 students attend the school.

John H. West's students entered the contest last year but came in seventh place, Muscarella said. That made them determined to work even harder this year, she said. They redoubled their efforts by enlisting help from students throughout the rest of the Plainedge district to collect used oral care products and packaging, she said.

“It was ahuge lesson in civics or how to lead your life,” Muscarella said. ”Don’t give up. You didn’t win. Keep going.”

Student Ava Bassolino, 10, said the playground looks like it is made of wood. "When I heard it was made of toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes, I was really amazed," she said.

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