Center School 3rd graders dispose of more than 4,500 pieces of trash in a month

Jun 21, 2018

Early last month, Center School third graders Lyla Hotte and Zasmyn Pumphrey started picking up trash during recess.

“We had nothing to do, so I suggested we could clean up trash,” said Pumphrey.

“And I said, ‘yes,’” said Hotte, sitting beside Pumphrey.

Quickly, other students joined in. With the help of 10 other schoolmates, the two girls had picked up 4,689 pieces of trash by June 7.

The students had a variety of motives. Owen Harrington wanted to help the environment. Zoë Van Keuren wanted to be kind to animals. Pumphrey said the experience brought her closer to other classmates.

Associate Vice Principal Kevin Tavares was impressed. Throughout the academic year, there were other community service initiatives, including a food pantry project and a clothing drive, but this project was different. The kids initiated it.

As the project progressed, the school provided rubber gloves and trash bags. Valerie Plant, a staff member, helped students record the number of pieces of trash disposed of as the number hit quadruple digits.

“I think it reflects [the message] adults at home are promoting and the message here at school: You have to give back,” said Tavares.

Inspired by the initiative, Tavares has considered starting another cleanup effort next fall. Additionally, he hopes to get anti-littering signage on the playground and field to deter others from trashing school grounds.

Meanwhile, Pumphrey, moving up to Old Hammondtown Elementary School next year, expects to bring along the cleanup initiative.

When asked if she enjoyed cleaning, Pumphrey said yes, but “just not at my house.”