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Students develop a clean-up collaboration

ROUSES POINT Twelve students, 11 garbage bags and a whole lot of junk add up to a recent school trip taken by students from Rouses Point Elementary Schools Smooth Sailing Mentoring Club. About eight weeks ago, 12 students in grades three through five formed the mentoring club with the goal to increase [their] social and collaborative skills, explained Jennifer Christiansen, a multi-age teacher from the school who heads the club. Christiansen explained teachers from the school chose students based on their behaviors; whether they were positive role models or students who had challenging social problems. These students joined together to help one another have better academic performance, a better attitude towards school, show better teamwork and relationships and also show more self-control and self-esteem, according to a rubric Christiansen follows for the students. To help reach these goals, Christiansen brought the students to Stony Point Road to clean up garbage. That road is actually one of the prettiest roads in the village of Rouses Point, explained Christiansen. Its always been littered and people complain about it, but nothing ever happens. I just figured it would be a beautiful spot to take the kids, she added. It has the lake on one side and the swamp on the other. A nice little ecosystem. The students in the Smooth Sailing Mentoring Club usually meet once a week and work on various projects together. When asked what project they enjoyed most, every student agreed the Stony Point clean-up was their favorite. The students each stated what sort of trash they found along the road, ranging from a bike frame and tires to aerosol cans and propane tanks. One student said, We could probably have filled up another trash bag of cigarette butts. Before I went there, I thought that there wasnt going to be much trash, said fifth-grader Dylan Gladd. But, afterward I discovered a lot of people polluted with dead fish, fishing line, fishing poles, bikes, old pieces of furniture. And that really changed me and now I want to stop pollution in the world. Another student, fifth-grader Celine Houle, expected to only find bottles littering the road, but was surprised by all the other trash she found. I kept thinking to myself, Pollution is a big problem around the world right now and this really isnt helping. [People] are polluting their own earth. Its like theyre killing themselves. Christiansen explained one of the goals the group had to accomplish before heading to Stony Point was to build strong relationships. We had to bond with each other so we could trust each other, get along during the project, she said. Everyone got along. Everyone celebrated everyone else's discoveries. As for the future of the mentoring program, Christiansen said, I would say this year we learned that it is productive, it is positive, and we will move ahead with it next year.

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