Local students clean up on World Wetland’s Day

Pictured (l-r) are assistant principal Madelyn Sierra-Hernandez, Jade Fife, Jewels Allen, Joy Allen, first grade teacher Shirley Sanchez, Adrian Delesdernier, Sommer Abuqare, Yolanda Vargas, Priscilla and Miriam Radillo. (Photo by Katie Burdick)

Students, families and staff members from Dr. Edward L. Whigham Elementary School in Cutler Bay joined with students of Centennial Middle School to help the environment on World Wetland’s Day, Saturday, Feb. 4.

A total of 155 participants gathered to pick up trash along the rocky jetty at Black Point Marina, scooping up bottles, cans, lids, straws, paper, plastic, Styrofoam and fishing line. Even a submerged shopping cart was retrieved. In just three hours the volunteers had collected and removed 474 pounds of trash.

The Centennial students were members of the National Junior Honor Society and the Coastal Magnet Program. Tote bags for all the workers had been donated by Whigham’s PTA and the Officer Snook Program donated coloring books and Tshirts for all the students participating.

“Dockmaster Ken Maxwell of the Miami-Dade County Parks and Recreation Department helped implement plans for the project,” said Katie Burdick, a music teacher at Whigham. “Tamyra McCallister of Whigham was amazed at all the fishing line she found. Second grade student Tredarius Williams was repulsed by all the beer bottles he found. As she peered into the mangroves for trash, Fatima Gill’s experience was enriched by the sighting of a crocodile in the bushes, a jellyfish, and two snakes. Jakob Clark was exuberant when he saw a manatee lumbering up for air.”

Burdick said that student artwork was displayed to promote awareness of local environmental problems such as pollution. Messages that suggested ways to help endangered manatees also were on display. Student Dawson Delesdernier said he thought that the project was worthwhile.

“The important message we can share is that fish are dying because they are eating plastic and choking on it, so we need to clean up the waterways so that we can see more fish, catch more fish, and eat more fish,” Delesdernier said.

A number of teachers not only participated in the clean-up project, they helped by spreading the word among the students and by working environmental lessons into their daily classes.

“Science teacher, Adrian Delesdernier, who is Whigham’s Teacher of the Year for 2011-12, organized the World Wetland’s Days events,” Burdick said. “She was most impressed by all the enthusiastic ‘kid power.’”

Whigham principal Susan Lyle was impressed by the way the students were making a difference in the community and appreciated their efforts.

“We will all benefit for years to come by their work today,” Lyle said.

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