Evans Elementary first-graders Taylor Kemp (from left), David McVay and Candace Wakefield collect trash from around their school with their class. The children were showing support for the Metro Augusta/ Columbia County Clean and Beautiful clean-up event that will take place along Gordon Highway on Saturday.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Candace Wakefield watches one of her classmates find a quarter on the ground and tells him, "You're a lucky ducky."
Candace then continues to scan the ground with the rest of Liz Besecker's first-grade class looking for what she called "goodies."
"Goodies is trash and trash is goodies," the 7-year-old said.
The 23 students of Besecker's class were the first class to take part in a three-day program that began on Wednesday to beautify the Evans Elementary School campus.
Donning neon orange vests and equipped with plastic trash bags, the 6- and 7-year-olds scoured the grounds of the school on Gibbs Road and picked up broken pencils, small pieces of paper, bubble gum wrappers and other "goodies."
Physical education teacher Scott Aaronson spearheaded the cleanup effort and said he hopes the excitement displayed by the students to beautify their school stays with them into adulthood.
"It's good that we can get them at such a young age and teach them some morals about their environment," Aaronson said. "Now, they will continue to see trash on the ground at their school, pick it up and throw it in a garbage can because they feel a sense of pride in how their school looks."
In the classroom, Besecker said she has been teaching the students about nature and the environment and sees the project, co-sponsored by Columbia County Clean and Beautiful, as a practical application of what they've been learning.
"They go to this school, and they feel a sense of ownership for it," Besecker said. "By helping to clean it up, they feel better about their school and feel safer."
The next step, she said, is to teach them to feel that same sense of ownership toward their planet.
Evans Elementary Assistant Principal Scott Weinand said the project gives the children a sense of fulfillment they don't normally get through other school projects.
"Many times, we'll ask students to collect money, but they never see where that money goes," Weinand said. "With this project, they can pick up the trash, put in a bag and put it in a dumpster. Then, they can see how much better their school looks. It leaves them with a sense of accomplishment."
Several classes participated in the effort to remove litter from the campus, Aaronson said. More importantly, he said, students got the message that they too can do something to make their world a better place.
"What did we learn today?" Aaronson asked Besecker's students as 23 hands shot up into the air.
"We know that trash on the ground is bad, and we should pick it up and throw it away," one of the voices replied.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.