REED-CUSTER Middle School seventh grade students cleaned up Old Smokey Park. Participating were (front, from left) Madison Humphrey, Brandy Ridgley, Rebekka Kingman, Gavin Welchel, Bree Guzman and Madison Knight. In the back are Carly Gregory, Casey Polka, Mike Cripe, Max Lepper, Austin Cherry, Gavin Harrison, Ryan Shepered and Khrista Mitchell.
by Tonya Michalec Staff writer
A local teacher found a way to make the move from the classroom to the park, by way of an enviromental grant from Exelon, in an effort to teach students a few things that cannot be learned from books.
Elizabeth Hein, a seventh grade special education teacher at the Reed-Custer Middle School (RCMS), found a way to help teach respect and consideration for one's community by organizing a massive clean up operation for students to take part in.
On the morning of Friday, April 11, over 130 seventh graders were bused to Old Smokey Park, to comb the grounds with a fine-toothed rake.
For hours students came together to beautify their home town, learning that together they can make a visible difference, one trash-filled bag at a time.
"They worked diligently; raking leaves, picking up sticks and removing trash from one end of the park to the other," Hein said.
The cleaning expedition was not limited to just the expansive grassy areas at the city's main park, students also tackled Old Smokey's enclosed skate park and trekked down the street a bit to spruce up the Lion's Kiddie Park as well.
One of the main areas addressed, were the two baseball fields at Old Smokey. Since opening season was only a week away and also since the following day was the day of the Braidwood Park District's annual Easter egg hunt, the seventh graders made sure that nothing was going to get in the way of catching a fly ball or the little ones' great scramble for the eggs.
In order to pull off the park clean ups, Hein turned to Exelon, as the middle school did in 2012 when it was awarded $1,000 for the seventh grader's reduce, reuse and recycle magnet project.
By completing a simple application outlining the project, Hein received funding from the nuclear power corporation. The Gabby Green Grant is awarded for environmental projects. The grant was approved and the seventh grade team was awarded $590 for the materials needed to give the parks a clean sweep.
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