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Fifth-graders work the Green River Cleanup

  • A huge pile of trash accumulates at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area in Greenfield on following the Source to Sea Cleanup in 2014. Recorder File Photo



Recorder Staff
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

GREENFIELD — How could cleaning up a river be in the least bit pleasant, let alone fun?

“I thought it was going to be gross, just picking up trash all over the place,” sixth-grader Lilly Ross said, reminiscing about last year’s cleanup. “But there was a lot of interesting things that we picked up.”

Like the last two years, fifth-graders at the middle school will volunteer at the Green River Cleanup this week — a chance to learn a little about what it means to address litter and a little about what it means to be a part of a larger community.

“This age is perfect because it really allows students to see an issue right here and be a part of something local,” said Anna Marchefka, a fifth-grade teacher at Greenfield Middle School.

On Friday, about 130 students at the middle school will head over to different sites along the river to clean up trash that has accumulated over the past year. Some, like Lilly did last year, will go to the Eunice Williams Covered Bridge, where the accumulation of trash left behind by visitors this summer again stirred complaints in the community.

Friday’s cleanup will be followed up by the townwide endeavor Sept. 23, led by groups like Greenfield Rights of Nature, and overseen by the Connecticut River Conservancy.

For the students, it’s a mixture of some of the cool things that could be found, along with learning about what it means to take care of something in your community, beyond the walls of the school.

“At this age, their view of the world is bigger than it was, but it needs to increase so that they can be a civically minded community member,” Principal Gary Tashjian said.

For Lilly and her classmate Dylan French, 11, the cleanup brought to life a big issue.

“If people don’t clean up the rivers, water will not be a beautiful sight,” Dylan said. “Some people like to sit down at a bench and look at the river.”

While Lilly said it could be useful to have more places to dispose of your trash, Dylan said it would create more work for those whose job is to take out the trash. Instead, he emphasized the need for people to just do their part and cleanup after themselves.

“The parks are a natural landscape and if we don’t keep that part clean, then animals will die,” Dylan added.

Last year, they found everything from fast food trash to scraps of metal and glass. When cleaning up though, they will have the proper gear, including thick gloves. Students will work in teams and will be guided by their teachers during the cleanup.

Lilly and Dylan are excited for the next round of fifth-graders to participate in the cleanup and a year later, they find themselves more mindful of the river that their water comes from.

“It’s important to pick up as much as you can,” Lilly said. “Even though our school isn’t there, it’s still in our community.”

You can reach
Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264