Collaborative Campus Clean Up brings positive change to school grounds

Senior Christine Corpuz holds an open garbage bag to catch a soda can at the November 18th property clean-up hosted by AP Environmental Science students at East. “I do think it is important to keep the Earth clean. I don’t understand why anybody would go out of their way to litter,” Corpuz said. Photo by Kennedy Keaton.

Students from Corey Puckett’s AP Environmental Science class hosted a community service event on November 18th dedicated to picking up the litter around the exterior of Oswego East High School. 

The idea became a working plan of action due to junior Teegan Mathey, a student of AP Environmental Science. Puckett, along with many of her classmates, hold a great amount of admiration for the fact that the idea of one teenager fully blossomed into a real project of positivity.

Her class had been focusing on their semester project, where the core focus is about improving the health of the two main water bodies that are on campus.

Mathey became motivated to do this event during a class activity that consisted of walking around the perimeter of Oswego East to see if there was any litter lying around. In only five minutes, Mathey and her group found thirty pieces of trash.

“I’m learning how much our school doesn’t throw litter in garbage cans or recycling bins. We’re collecting way more than I thought we would which is troubling so I think we should talk to the school about that and make students more aware of the impact that littering can have,” Mathey said.

Puckett supervised the event and was excited to see how the project came to life. He was proud of the amount of students that came to volunteer their time and began to explain why it’s important for high schoolers to participate in clean-up events.

“If you look at all these trash bags from two hours of collecting, it can make others more aware instead of throwing trash out their car or throwing it on the ground haphazardly,” Puckett said.

Caroline Engelhardt, who is a senior taking AP Environmental Science class, also deserves recognition in the fact that she helped distribute posters throughout the school that brought awareness towards the upcoming clean-up. 

“I think the recognition of what humans are doing to the Earth is important to know about because I never realized how much trash there was on campus,” Engelhardt said passionately. “Seeing all of this kind of makes me sad because humans are doing this- humans are knowingly throwing all this trash onto the Earth instead of throwing it away. And for what purpose?”

At 8:00 am, twenty to thirty students gathered around the main entrance of the school and then dispersed across the campus, holding trash bags in gloved hands. Students who participated said they were also surprised with the turnout of the event.

Groups began to make their way to the back of the school, others could be seen gathered in parking lots, and some students ventured further out towards the hilly landscape that lies adjacent to East’s entrance. 

Students, like Senior Christine Corpuz, didn’t let the cold weather stifle their efforts of helping at the event. Corpuz added that participating in the event helped her begin to discover the importance of maintaining a clean environment.  

“It’s eye-opening because you wouldn’t think there’s this much trash around here,” Corpuz said. “You kind of just think people will be considerate enough to dispose of things but going around the entire school campus and seeing how much trash there is and what types of trash there is [insane].”

At 10:55 am, students circled back to the main entryway of the school. Black trash bags that were empty two hours ago were now filled with five to ten pounds of litter. 

Participants of the event, including junior Jorge Sanchez, were surprised with the amount of litter that had accumulated around campus. Sanchez said this helped him to see the importance of helping out at a clean-up event.

“[I’m tired of people seeing all] this stuff and never picking it up, so coming here and doing community service to help make the world a better place [is important to me],” Sanchez said.

“It’s eye-opening because you wouldn’t think there’s this much trash around here. You kind of just think people will be considerate enough to dispose of things but going around the entire school campus and seeing how much trash there is and what types of trash there is [insane].”

— senior Christine Corpuz

Senior Caroline Engelhardt, instrumental in bringing the November 18th event together, assists with the property clean-up. “Students should throw away their trash and recycle when necessary,” Engelhardt said. Photo by Kennedy Keaton.

The organization of an event that achieves the goal of helping wildlife and creating a cleaner environment for the campus held importance for not only the present but also for the good of the future. Some students, like junior Angie Goduto, had their own ideas on how the school could decrease the amount of litter on campus.

“I think having events like this where students gather around to help pick up trash is important,” Goduto said. “We could hold something like this once a month.”

Puckett unfolded his opinion on the ongoing epidemic of littering and formulated an effective plan in decreasing the negative impact that littering has on the Earth.  

“I don’t think [littering] is just isolated to us. It’s a universal problem,” Puckett said. “We need to stop making products disposable [and start] making more compostable material.” 

Junior Essece Chadha from AP Environmental Science is another student that birthed her idea into life by creating her own system of picking up water bottles from classes located on the G-Wing and the second floor F-Wing. 

“I’m passionate about the environment and recycling. [We should] get this stuff to be reused, not to go into landfills because they contribute to [the production] of greenhouse gases and contributes to our air pollution,” Chadha said.  “One less piece of garbage makes a difference.”

Kennedy Keaton is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl

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