Chesapeake youth join in TLC cleanup

Published 10:30 pm Saturday, April 4, 2009

CHESAPEAKE — In any good championship, the game starts out with a group photo. And this battle was no different.

So before the start of Chesapeake Middle School versus weeds, trash and various and sundry detritus, Karen Musser, clean-up leader and language arts teacher, had her camera snapping away at her players.

Then it was out to the field, or in this case the lawns and roadway by the middle school.

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About 20 students and 10 teachers turned out on a sunny, but crisp Saturday morning. Their inspiration had come from an earlier pep rally where assistant principal Sam Gue talked about Panther Pride and giving back the community, Musser said.

“This was our first attempt at this,” she said.

They were asked to pull weeds, sweep and rake.

“Anything that wasn’t produced by nature, we’re throwing away,” Musser said.

The school clean-up had the blessing of the community-wide Operation TLC that was having its own first spring cleanup around the Chesapeake area.

Sixth grader Julia Kinder spent much of the morning weeding around the flowers and shrubbery on the grounds.

“I love doing this stuff, being outside,” she said. “Helping out nature.”

Some of her other classmates zoned in on the area beneath the bleachers of the football stadium, where they quickly coated sneakers in mud and filled up plastic bags with junk.

“You wouldn’t believe the stuff under here,” Caylee King said.

But, along with Leota Brumfield and Rachel Handley, she persevered, even scrapping chewed gum off bleacher seats with her hands, covered in blue disposable gloves.

“There’s M&M packages, chewed gum, pens. People throw stuff down there as if they don’t care,” King said.

The cleanup was part of the ongoing development of a mission-based strategic plan for the school district, Ben Coleman, middle school principal, said.

“The major focus for our students is to give back,” Coleman said. “The community gives so much. The kids give, but not enough. We’re not doing this to get something but because we’re already received.”

Up and down County Road 1 by the school was the contingent of Cecili Nida, health/ PE teacher and sponsor of the year-old recycling team at the school, her son, Dalton Nida, McKenna Wells and Blake Ashworth.

Watching the students snapping up fast food containers, papers and like, Nida thought the turnout was good for a first time.

“Getting kids out on a Saturday morning, I’m proud of them.”