Students pitch in, clean up community

T he streets of Whitehall are a little cleaner after a group of students from Whitehall High School spent several hours last week picking up garbage.

The junior and senior classes were given a few hours reprieve from school to tidy up the community and were joined by school faculty, village and town officials, members of the Whitehall Police Department, and employees of the village Department of Public Works

It took the group of students, more than a hundred strong, about two hours to canvass the entire community and clean up debris that accumulated over a long winter.

“I think it takes less time every year,” said Greg Chappell, dean of students at Whitehall. “The village seems to be a lot cleaner than it was when we started the program.”

The project was initially organized by Mark Goodrich, an environmental science teacher at Whitehall.

Early on, Goodrich had students clean an area near South Bay, but a few years ago the program shifted its focus to cleaning the village.

This year’s event, which was spearheaded by Kelly McHugh, the high school principal, and Marge Mohn, a village trustee, was part of a greater communitywide effort to clean the village.

Throughout the week, the DPW has been canvassing the village, offering free curbside pickup of organic debris. Local residents hoping to clean their properties only had to fill a clear plastic bag with grass clippings, leaves and  brush, and the village would dispose of it for them at no charge.

And while the number of residents taking advantage of the program was limited, the village did collect at least one large truck full of debris.

Wednesday morning’s clean-up was part of an effort to pick up inorganic trash that the DPW wasn’t picking up.

Students traveled by bus to three or four different areas of the village and worked their way toward the Skenesborough Park.

Members of the DPW periodically came by and hauled away the bags of trash the students had collected.

Once the students arrived at the park, they were treated to a barbecue by local officials with Mayor Peter Telisky and trustee Ken Bartholomew cooking up several hundred hot dogs.

Besides making the community look a little nicer, Goodrich said the benefits are two-fold: it helps foster stewardship and appreciation of the environment and helps build community pride.

After everyone had eaten, Mohn presented a framed certificate of appreciation to the students for their efforts.

“I think it went really well. The kids did a great job,” Mohn said.

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