TAMPA – For most elementary school-aged kids, Saturday mornings are a time to sleep-in.
But not for a group of students from Citrus Park Elementary School.
Fifth-grader Seaira Torrens-Baker said she's an early riser, anyhow, and was ready on the recent “Green-up Cleanup Day” at the Citrus Park campus.
She said that before the cleanup, half the campus was beautiful and clean, but there were some issues on the other side. It was time to beautify and, with encouragement from fifth-grade teacher Suzanne Boner, the kids got things done.
They spent four early morning hours on a recent Saturday weeding, putting down sod, and planting new greenery donated by the Citrus Park Nursery. Students were allowed to adopt a plant and bring it to their classrooms the day before for planting the next day. Butterfly plants, small bushes, and flowers that can grow easily in the Florida heat were welcomed and the kids went to work with the motto, “Let's Make Citrus Park Beautiful.”
The event was in conjunction with Earth Day, to be celebrated on April 22. They've been learning about life science in Boner's class and took the lessons to heart.
It isn't just about planting flowers and putting in mulch and sod, said fifth-grader Daniel Partin. It's about keeping their campus clean and a school to be proud of.
“I believe we're going to clean this school up,” he said. “We'll pick up trash and make it pretty. We have a nice school. We want people to see that.”
Local Boy Scouts are also getting involved to earn merit badges, which makes the event a community affair.
“Sometimes we have events and we look around at the end and see wrappers, cups and cans all over the place,” Daniel said. “It's time to make sure everyone knows how important it is to have a clean school. Anything we can do to make a difference helps.”
More than 150 bags of mulch are being used to stop the growth of weeds around the Citrus Park campus. The mulch is supposed to prevent the weeds from growing and with so much mulch, the kids are hoping the weeds go away and the plants will grow.
It isn't only the beautification that the kids are working on. Seaira said they are concerned with the “greening” of her school.
“Look at things like recycling,” she said. “We recycle everything here, even the lunch trays. We are totally into making things green. We know all about Earth Day because of Ms. Boner. We want to make the entire school look good. We want the parents who walk around the school to be amazed at what we do.”
Daniel added, “We want our neighborhoods to be clean. We need our forests to be clean and we need to recycle. That's what Earth Day is all about and that's what we want to do at Citrus Park.''