BEVERLY — An outfit made out of old Doritos chip bags, a dress made of plastic shopping bags and other handmade ensembles highlighted Centerville Elementary School's first fashion show.

The school's gym was transformed into a runway Wednesday morning as fifth-graders showed off the environmentally-conscious outfits they made from recycled materials.

The project, which taught students about where their clothes come from, how to be more environmentally friendly, and some useful skills — like learning how to use a sewing machine — was part of the school's STEAM program (science, technology, engineering, art and math).

Through a similar program, fourth-grade students painted a mural in the school library that depicts the world and how humans can take care of it. The dedication was after the fashion show.

The efforts were led by Nikki Rupu, the school's STEAM specialist, who worked with the kids throughout the year guiding them through the projects.

As the fashion show models made their way down the runway, commentators Paige Walor and Henry Pizzo described their peers' outfits and what they've learned about textiles, such as how billions of pounds are thrown away each year.

"Forty-five percent of textiles that end up in landfills could have been recycled or upcycled," Henry said.

The students also learned that through looking at their own clothing, they saw that none of the T-shirts they were wearing were made in the United States.

"We wanted to know and learn what happens to our old clothes when they are thrown in the trash," explained Paige.

Students also learned that by the time they're grown up, climate change will be a big issue and they need to do what they can now to prevent it, she said.

After all the sustainable outfits were modeled on the runway, the fourth-

grade mural was dedicated in the library with a ribbon cutting — a green ribbon in the spirit of the project.

Fourth-graders just started painting the mural in the spring, but learned throughout the year about climate change and sustainable practices. They each came up with images and messages to go around the painting of the earth.

One read, "Wind power: It makes the earth happy," while another said, "Trash-free lunch" with a picture of a lunch box.

Muralists Philip and Maria Coleman led the artistic efforts.

"The kids had a good time painting and I think they're very proud of what they did," Philip Coleman said.

Maria Coleman added that the kids were very creative and surprised her at times.

"I want them to take away how to be socially responsible," Rupu said, noting the fifth-graders are moving on to middle school and she hopes they will take what they learned about sustainable practices with them. "I just hope they will remember through the experience, the painting and the fashion show."

Arianna MacNeill can be reached at 978-338-2527 or at amacneill@salemnews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @SN_AMacNeill. 

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