B y Derek Liebig
The streets of Whitehall are a little cleaner after close to 120 people spent Friday morning picking up trash as part of the second annual Whitehall Cleanup Day.
Students from the junior and senior classes at Whitehall High School were joined by several faculty members, including dean of students Greg Chappell, science teacher Mark Goodrich, Principal Kelly McHugh, and social studies teacher Justin Culligan, as well as Town Supervisor Richard “Geezer” Gordon, village trustee Ken Bartholomew and several members of the village Department of Public Works.
The students were permitted to take several periods out of their school day to help with the efforts, which were organized for the second consecutive year by environmental science teacher Mark Goodrich.
“Last year was the first year,” said Chappell. “It was very successful.”
Goodrich described the project as a combination of “community service and environmental awareness.”
He said he began the event several years ago on South Bay but high spring water levels made the project difficult and it was moved to the village last year.
“It builds from year to year. The kids really look forward to it,” Goodrich said, adding that is helps build interest for the environmental science class.
Besides the immediate impact of making the streets cleaner, the project serves as a valuable learning tool.
“The number one goal is to build pride in the community. It makes the community cleaner and helps the kids build pride,” Chappell said.
Goodrich has seen a change in the way students look at their community and their surroundings.
“As time goes on, I’ve noticed the kids have developed an awareness. It’s nice to see,” Goodrich said, pointing out that the village wasn’t nearly as dirty as last year.
“I think people see the kids and think twice about throwing out their coffee cup,” he said.
The students gathered around 9:30 a.m. and were split into several smaller groups and assigned different areas of the village to clean.
Brianna McDonald was part of a group of about ten students who started their day by cleaning the grounds of the Armory.
Despite some gross trash, she said the project was fun.
“It’s nice to clean up the community,” adding that empty tins of chewing tobacco were the most disgusting piece of garbage she picked up.
Most of the students seemed to enjoy the chance to get out of school for a few hours and pick up litter, even if some took some time off to play in the park behind the youth center.
After all the students had picked up trash, and DPW workers had hauled it away, everyone met at the Skenesborough Park for hot dogs grilled by Bartholomew and “Gordon, who joked with the kids while they discussed their weekend plans and played a impromptu game of football.
“This is a good thing for the school and a good thing for the kids,” said Gordon. “It’s a heck of a program. The cooperation from the school is great.”
“They’re all good kids.”