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Kindergartners from Plumas Charter School’s Quincy Learning Center proudly show off the gloves they used when collecting trash along the Quincy bike path last April. From left: Lilyanne Hahn, Outdoor Education Coordinator Courtney Gomola, Darrah McAllister, Alice Coats, Liam Dale, Jenna Moore, Grayson Olschowka, Kenzie King, instructional aide Lindsey Kimzey, Charlotte Lohn, Olivia Pence and Adrienne Logan. Photo by Ingrid Burke

Plumas Charter School students help keep their communities clean

Did public areas in Quincy and Greenville look a little cleaner this summer? Thank a Plumas Charter School student! Based on positive class cleanup experiences last year, teachers plan to expand cleanup efforts with both Quincy and Indian Valley students in the 2019-20 school year.    

“Having students be involved in local cleanups helps them recognize themselves as contributing members of their community,” said PCS Outdoor Education Coordinator Courtney Gomola. “They get to be physically active while doing a productive thing that doesn’t just benefit them or their classmates but everyone who enjoys our landscapes.”

Gomola added that PCS Outdoor Education and Exploration classes at the Quincy Learning Center and Indian Valley Academy in Taylorsville will be participating in the Great Sierra River Cleanup this year. This event, presented by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, is set for Saturday, Sept. 21. Learn more at sierranevada.ca.gov/rivercleanup.

Quincy Learning Center

During the 2018-19 school year, Quincy Learning Center students of all ages worked during multiple outings to clean up the public bike path that runs through town. The path is accessible by walking from each of QLC’s three locations: 535 Lawrence St., 546 Lawrence St., and 80 Main St.

Students were accompanied by teachers who guided them in age-appropriate discussions about safety, responsibility and environmental awareness, said high school teacher Hannah Stewart.

“Cleanup efforts instill in students respect for their community while also showing them how to be an environmental steward,” she said.

Because the cleanup outings were open-ended, discussions developed depending on students’ interests. For example, kindergartners investigated the trash they picked up, acting as detectives to guess where it came from.

First- and second-graders participated in a period of bird watching after they learned about the effects trash can have on wildlife. And eighth-graders paid attention to the span of the path they covered in relation to physical activity and exercise regimes.

Stewart said she plans to have her students conduct multiple cleanups throughout this school year, “tying together the importance of environmental stewardship and the concept of ‘reduce, reuse, and recycle.’”

Greenville Learning Center

Last year, Greenville Learning Center students cleaned up the Indian Valley Community Center and surrounding areas daily. The community center is accessible by walking from GLC, and through an agreement between PCS and the Indian Valley Recreation and Parks District, students use the space for physical activities and enrichment programs.

In addition, sixth-graders participated in a local creek cleanup day, reported teacher Jennifer Van Acker. She discussed with her students “how harmful litter is to the environment and how it can disrupt the ecosystem.”

Van Acker related cleanup efforts to PCS’s four core values:  “respect, compassion, responsiveness, and accountability, for ourselves, each other, and our environment.”

“Cleanup efforts give students a chance to come together to help the environment and community,” she said. “A cleanup can bring a sense of community and responsibility to keep our common areas safe and clean. By teaching students about the importance of cleanliness, their hard work and collaboration result in a clean, litter-free area for our community to enjoy!”

Van Acker said that GLC students will continue to clean up around the community center this year. In addition, fifth- and sixth-graders will perform a monthly “creek sweep” to ensure a “safer and cleaner environment for everyone to enjoy!”

Plumas Charter School operates learning centers in Quincy, Indian Valley, and Chester. To learn more, visit plumascharterschool.org or call 283-3851.

Ingrid Burke serves as public relations specialist for Plumas Charter School and provides freelance services via iburkewritingandediting.com.

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