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Buford High School student Carter Hales is an avid recycler — he has taught friends and neighbors how to recycle and now, for a work-based project for his senior year, he has created a recycling program for Buford Academy. 

“For many years, I have studied, researched, worked in and actively learned about the industry of recycling,” the 17-year-old says, “from working to initiate common recycling programs for paper and plastic, to hauling and processing valuable loads of specialized recyclables, to working with local recycling professionals on multi-million dollar recycling operations.” 

Carter worked with Bobby Purdum, director of the Hall County recycling program, Mrs. Jodie Birchmore, Buford High School’s work-based learning coordinator, and Buford Academy administrators Mrs. Elena Hernandez-Vo and Mr. Scott Chafin to build Buford Academy’s recycling program. 

“I arranged for each classroom to receive a recycling bin and developed a collection plan for classrooms and for the extraordinary amount of cardboard in the cafeteria preparations each day,” Carter says, noting the cafeteria alone produces about 125 pounds of cardboard a day. “The goal is to help educate students and staff and help the environment through the program.” 

Academically at Buford, Carter has a 4.0 GPA and upon graduation, he will have completed 10 AP classes. Athletically, he has been a top runner and leader for the cross country and distance track teams since his freshman year. 

“Running is an integral part of who I am,” Carter says. “I train, push myself and excel with some of my closest friends. The community and family created on these teams is unmatchable.”

Having earned three varsity letters in cross country and two in track, Carter plans to earn a letter for each sport during his senior season

“My athletic goals for my senior year include leading the Cross Country and Track teams to a good placement at the state championships, continuing to improve our 4×800 school record, and improving my personal records,” he says. “I am a fast runner, but my more defining factors are my commitment to my training and team, my leadership, and my discipline.” 

Carter is also a member of FCA and FBLA. 

After graduation, Carter plans to pursue an MBA and possibly run cross country and track in college. 

“After that I hope to come back to Buford to build my recycling business into a large scrap material processing facility in this community,” he says. 

Carter is the son of Sarah and Jason Hales. He has two siblings, James, 15, a sophomore at Buford, and Rosemary, 8, a third grader at Buford Academy. The most influential person in his life is his grandfather. 

“He has taught me that hard work and strong morals can get you where you want to go,” Carter says. “In whatever I do, I do not mind hard work and getting dirty to get a job done.” 

The Buford City Schools Student Spotlight is made possible by the generosity of the City of Buford.

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Deanna Allen has served as editor of the North Gwinnett Voice since June 2021. Effective communication and creative design are her passions.

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