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Still celebrating: Local school’s Earth Day efforts go digital

Denny Smith, an Aspen Ridge Middle School student, picks up trash to celebrate Earth Day, which is commemorated each year on April 22. The schoolÕs Earth Day project had to be completed near the studentsÕ homes because of the COVID-19 situation. (Photo courtesy of Jim Maki)

ISHPEMING — Each year, Jim Maki’s Earth Science class at Aspen Ridge Middle School participates in a roadside trash collection to commemorate Earth Day, which takes place on April 22 every year.

Obviously, because of the COVID-19 crisis and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, the resulting statewide school closures and the social distancing protocols made the typical trash collection difficult, if not impossible.

He didn’t want the concept, though, to go unnoticed.

Maki assigned the effort to be completed at home, either alone or with students’ families, and asked that trash be picked up in their neighborhoods.

In an email, he explained the typical Earth Day celebration as follows: “Earlier in the week students read about the history of Earth Day, which started back in 1970. During normal times, classes share in this event by picking up trash alongside roads around the school.”

This year involved a different approach, with the clean-up project assigned through Google Classroom and to be finished at home, he said.

“I have to say, that it allowed us to spread our efforts over a greater area, as students mostly cleaned up in their neighborhoods,” Maki said. “Participation was somewhat lower due to concerns over the coronavirus, but that’s understandable.”

The participants collected a total of 116 pounds of trash along roads in Ishpeming, Ishpeming Township and Champion.

He passed along a few comments from the students who took part in the clean-up.

Student Hailey Markham said: “We collected 50 pounds of trash and a couple of interesting finds were….. Portable charger, $5 bill, and a flowering pot. We worked really hard.”

Nick Lequia said: “I got 2 pounds near my house”

Lana Maki said: “I can’t believe how much trash we found on the side of the road.”

Cameron Mahaffey said: “I found 11 pounds.”

“I’m hopeful that students will develop an appreciation for keeping our environment litter-free,” Maki said.

Christie Mastric can be reached at cbleck@miningjournal.net.

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