Making a difference Kids clean up their environment

Rumor spread like wild fire among the students cleaning up outside P.S. No. 14 that someone had found a dead bird.

It wasn’t true. But excited kids, bearing brooms and dust pans, strained to look over the shoulders of taller kids for a glimpse.

Although they found no such treasure, kids as part of the city’s “Make a Difference Day,” found plenty of other stuff from bottle caps and cigarette butts to candy wrappers and leaves.

The kids at P.S. No. 14 and other schools were participating in a week-long effort to clean Bayonne “From land to sea,” as part of the Bayonne Cleaner & Greener Program.

Catherine Quinn, principal of Woodrow Wilson School, Thomas Tokar, a teacher at Bayonne High School, and Anna Panayiotou, a retired elementary school teacher – the committee members who organized the events, said the idea of “Cleaning Bayonne from Land to Sea” is to eliminate litter from land to see and clean up the neighborhoods of Bayonne.

The committee worked for months to plan appropriate education activities, which would promote the anti-litter campaign. The program was also designed to teach students about anti-litter and environment programs on city, county, and state levels of government.

A special pledge was written for the event, and was recited by all schools on Oct. 30:

“We, the residents of Bayonne, New Jersey pledge to do our best to keep Bayonne’s streets and shorelines clean because Bayonne is our home. We promise to take responsibility and will encourage our friends and families to keep Bayonne clean, free of pollution and free of litter from land to sea.”

Students in pre-k through the third grades created dream drawings of what they wanted Bayonne to look like.

Fourth graders researched the history of the broom, then created a poem or story.

Fifth graders researched history of drains and sewers and also created poems or stores. Sixth graders created a litter letter with a pledge, one per school or neighborhood, to be taken home signed, and later tallied.

Grade seven conducted search of Bayonne’s maritime history, and wrote poems or stories about it.

Grade eight researched global warning, wrote poems or stories, as well as a letter to Gov. Jon Corzine about government intervention.

Assemblies were conducted by the Passaic Valley Sewage Commission’s Outreach Program on litter as well as by the Hudson County Improvement Authority through September and October.

Then during the week of Oct. 23 to 27, shorelines were cleaned, school area swept, and litter removed.

At P.S. No. 14, Fourth Grade teachers Laura McCullough and Maryann McCann oversaw the cleanup around the schools.

“Imperial Paper Corporation donated the brooms,” said McCullough.

McCann said PS No 14 supports the Cleaner and Greener efforts, Clean Sweep and McDonalds McCares programs.

Students learned a lot

While students found no dead birds, they found candy wrappers, cigarette butts and a lot of rocks and weeds.

Jericho Martinez, one of the many fourth graders on the hunt for litter around the school, said litter was bad for the earth.

Hannah Argul said she had learned a lot through the program.

“I learned that you can always make a difference,” she said.

Emma Christie was particularly alarmed by the cigarette butts since she said these were bad for people.

Kaitlyn Lindquist also found cigarette butts near the school.

“People shouldn’t be smoking around the school,” she said.

Like others, Michael McKittrick found the usual assortment of rocks and wrappers, but also learned a lot.

“You can make a difference no matter what you do,” he said.

Jazmine Piperato learned a similar lesson.

“People can do things to help,” she said.

Tyler Law, said he found dirt and rocks in his sweeping along with a smashed tic tac box. He said he took away from the project the idea that people can make the world cleaner.

Mollie Mercado also learned a similar lesson.

“We can all make a difference if we help each other,” she said. Matthew Lovo agreed.

Marc Wright said he had a better appreciation of the environment.

Principal Janice Lo Re called this event “a wonderful learning experience” for the children.”

“They learn how to care for the environment and how to preserve it for future generations,” she said.


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