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Students Pitch Trash to Clean Schools, Park for Service Day


When Vicki Johnston challenged Parkview Elementary School students to choose a community-service project, they overwhelmingly chose a cause: “Trash the Trash.”

Jasmin Cruz hurries to clean up
Jasmin Cruz hurries to clean up

Hosted by the school’s Peer Mentoring Program, about 300 of the Wyoming Public Schools students spread out across Wyoming’s Lamar Park, Wyoming Junior High School and in their own schoolyard for their Global Youth Service Day project, picking up litter to improve the community.

“I just want to help out the community and make my state the cleanest state of all,” said fourth-grader Juan Escalante, as he scanned the ground for trash.

The Peer Mentoring Program, headed by Johnston, its founder, involves third- and fourth-grade Parkview students who regularly work with each other on math and reading skills, but they took the afternoon leading their peers in the spruce-up project.

Parkview Elementary School fourth-grader passes out trash bags before beginning a cleanup of Lamar Park
Parkview Elementary School fourth-grader passes out trash bags before beginning a cleanup of Lamar Park

According to a press release, a million young people worldwide were expected to take part in service projects to make Global Youth Service Day. Official event partners span six continents, more than 100 countries, and all 50 states.

At Wyoming Public Schools’ Oriole Park Elementary School, students also participated in the service day, working with 30 AmeriCorps volunteers on activities to beautify the school and support community organizations. Activities included planting flowers and trees, making dog toys for the Humane Society, decorating paper bags for Grand Rapids-nonprofit organization Kids Food Basket, and making sun catchers and bird feeders.

AmeriCorps, a program supported by the U.S. federal government, involves volunteers working throughout the nation on community-service projects.

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Global Youth Service Day

Parkview Peer Mentoring Program

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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