Sterling 6th Graders clean up highways

Posted: Tuesday, May 20, 2003

For the second year, the spring highway clean up at Sterling Elementary has accomplished a two-fold purpose.

"The most important thing for us is that it gives the kids an opportunity to give back to the community, then thanks to the contributions from Unocal, Ms. Hoffman's class has been able to go on field trips last year and this year that have been instrumental to our curriculum, so we're pleased," said Sterling Elementary Principal Paul Kubena.

The special field trip is to the coastal center across Kachemak Bay.

"Our trip focuses on marine biology, oceanography, and studying the marine ecosystem. The students get to handle the little critters and get to smell the sea air and it definitely makes an impression on the kids they'll never forget," said Terry Hoffman, the teacher who has organized the event for her class the last two years.

Brittany Meyer, one of Hoffman's students, has been on the trip both years.

"I like seeing all the ocean animals, it's whole other world down under the sea and it's so cool to get to see them, it's definitely worth picking up the garbage for a chance to go across the Bay," said Meyer.

"When you learn about it in the classroom you may understand it, but once you really see it you know it and never forget it," added classmate April Hoffman.

The clean up effort was assisted by Greg Merle and his wife Sharon; they provided the bright yellow t-shirts so the kids were easy to see and divided them up into groups of five and each group patrolled 1.7 miles of highway.

"My wife was at one end slowing down the traffic and I'll be at the other making sure the kids stay safe," said Merle, a Lead Operator for Unocal Alaska.

Greg also helped the kids last year with the heavier items like car bumpers that the students found along the road.

Merle likes being part of the program and added, "Terry submitted the proposal to Unocal once again this year and they saw it as a wonderful way to reach out to a group of kids, so they funded it again this year."



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