By Mike LaBella
---- — Haverhill got a good spring cleaning last Saturday, when hundreds of volunteers took part in the annual Earth Day citywide cleanup.
But 118 sixth-graders at Nettle Middle School got a jump on the cleaning earlier, when they made the area around their school look neater and cleaner, just as past sixth-grade classes have done.
”The first year we did a trash cleanup, the second year was a branch pickup the city chipped and we spread, and this year Valley Tree donated their time to chip all the large fallen trees and branches that the students pulled from the woods along Golden Hill Avenue,” said sixth-grade science teacher Michelle Joubert. “We all take pride in how our school looks and each year we continue to make improvements.”
Every year, Nettle sixth-graders study environmental science. As a kick-off to the unit, they study their own environment around the school grounds, making improvements to the area surrounding the building.
”As we progress in this science unit, students will be making reference to the cleanup and its benefits to the environment,” Joubert said.
Students got a break from their classroom studies on April 9 by spending two hours working on the grounds around their school as part of the annual Nettle School Earth Day cleanup.
Sixth-grader Emily Zujewski said she wanted to be involved in the cleanup, knowing it would make a big impact for Earth Day.
”I knew that it would help with the overall looks of our school ... The grounds were really covered in trash,” Emily said. “After we were done, it looked really good. There were no giant trees on the pathway and no trash on the hill.”
The children picked up trash from the school grounds. They also worked on beautifying the wooded area off Golden Hill Avenue near The Baker-Katz Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. With the assistance of Valley Tree, the wooded area was cleared of old fallen branches.
Sixth-grader Anthony Papageorgiou said he wanted to show off his school and have it look nice to everyone passing by.
”It was a lot of work picking up dead branches and brush, but it was worth it,” he said. “I’m happy with the results of our work and it’s good for the environment because it makes room for new trees. The only thing I worried about was destroying the homes of animals that might be living there.”
Joubert said the area has been cleaned by Nettle students in past years and this year’s beautification challenge was to get the bulk of the fallen trees cleared to allow for future vegetation to grow and become strong.
It was massive undertaking, but Nettle’s students did their best and worked hard to make the area around their school look good, Joubert said.
Students went into the woods and pulled out brush, branches, overgrowth and trash and other debris that was making the area look bad. They wore work gloves and were given trash bags. They brought the debris out to the street and Valley Tree picked it up. The trash was placed into a school Dumpster.
Principal Michael Rossi said it was his school’s biggest cleanup yet.
”The teachers did a great job by organizing kids in small work groups, then each took a different area along Golden Hill Ave.,” he said. “They really did a nice job planning and organizing.”
Rossi said Joubert arranged for Valley Tree and city workers to place orange cones along Golden Hill Avenue, and also to have a city truck with a flashing lights in the area.
”The kids found a fence post that could not be chipped, so the DPW took it in a truck,” Rossi said. “It was a great coordinated effort.”