ALES students to honor Mary Jane Stillwell

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There is no doubt Mary Jane Stillwell loved her job as a teacher assistant and the students at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School. She often referred to the primary age children she worked with as “her little friends” and couldn’t wait for summer break to end to be with them.


Stillwell, who lost her six- year battle with cancer this past summer, will now be remembered with a bench dedicated to her on the ALES Campus. It also won’t be just any bench.

Every student and staff member will help get the bench to campus as they began collecting plastic lids and caps which will then be melted down to form a bench. The campaign began Monday, September 10 and is being run by the ALES Leadership students. According to Kim Anderson and Kathy Ross, who are assisting the students, it will take 500 pounds of bottle caps and lids to make an eight-foot bench with a back.

“That’s a lot of caps and lids, but we can do it!” said fourth grader Luke Heady and third grader Jace Detre who stayed after school on Friday, September 7 along with four other students to make posters to help the other students more aware what they will be collecting. A flyer describing the project went home with students on Monday, September 10.

Caps and lids must be clean, free of paper or metal and can come from containers such as water bottles, Gatorade-type drinks, detergent, shampoo, spray cans, milk jugs, and more. Medicine bottles free of paper can also be used.

“Basically, any cap or lid you use in everyday life is a go as long as its not from a carryout container,” noted fifth grader Ava Warren. A large container is located at ALES for the caps and lids, but students and families are encouraged to collect in zip-lock bags or other containers before dropping into the main container.

Students also hope to get extended family and friends into the project. Cyrus Bivens, a fifth grader whose mother Misty Bivens teaches agriculture at LCHS, is getting the FFA involved and Ella Tucker, another fifth grader whose mother is a teacher at LCMS, is encouraging their faculty and staff to help.

First year ALES principal Crystal Wilkerson is also excited about the project. “I am so proud of our ALES leadership students for their dedication to the lid and cap campaign. It is so important that we teach children to honor and respect those who have dedicated their lives to others. These students are developing leadership skills that will last a lifetime.”

“Many people knew and loved Mary Jane,” said Anderson. “We want to remember her in a way everyone can be involved.” Stillwell’s family was notified last week of the bench campaign and acknowledged the effort. “I heard the kids want the bench to be her favorite color so that would be blue,” said David Stillwell, Mary Jane’s husband.

Any community member wanting to assist with the lid and cap collection is asked to contact any ALES student or staff member at 270-358-4112.