More than 400 Springwood Elementary School students, teachers and parent volunteers descended upon Parksville’s beach and Community Park Thursday to pick up trash as part of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.
The garbage never stood a chance.
It was the school’s first involvement with the nationwide initiative started by Vancouver Aquarium. The outing was organized by teachers Janessa Vega and Ashley Wiet, who coaxed 13 of the school’s 19 classrooms to volunteer for about an hour and a half the morning of June 1.
“I had a couple of parents bring it to my attention, and I looked up some of the things other groups have done,” said Vega. “I thought this would be the year to do it.”
The students, representing classes from kindergarten to Grade 7, were each assigned a cleanup area on a map. Due to the high turnout, they were able to pick up fast-food packaging, cigarette butts and various plastics not only on the beach, but throughout Community Park’s grass spaces, walkways and parking lots.
Vega said she and Wiet would catalogue and weigh the debris collected and send the data to the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup to be recorded.
Altogether, though, teachers and students gave the park and beach area high marks for its cleanliness.
“We’re picking up garbage; we really haven’t found any,” said Chelsea Jaeggle of Carmen Fletcher’s K-1 class.
One teacher said whoever is tasked with cleanup is doing a good job, as she supervised a group that had scoured its area before turning to play on the beach.
Vega and Wiet are already setting their sights on making the shoreline cleanup an annual event for Parksville, and are looking to expand.
“We’ve already got some ideas on changes for next year,” said Wiet. “And we’d like to see if we can get more schools involved.”