Family members and teachers showed up in full force at Xaverian High School on Thursday, February 25 in support of their children and students for the first annual Anti-Littering Essay-Writing Contest.
The “Don’t Drop It” campaign presented by the office of Senator Marty Golden is meant to encourage kids to be more environmentally conscious.
“Through this essay contest,” he said, “we are increasing awareness about the harmful effects of littering. Keeping our streets clean takes a team effort and these students will now encourage others to join the fight against littering.”
For this contest, students from grades three through five, in both public and parochial schools from across Golden’s district, were asked to write an essay describing ways to keep their neighborhoods clean. Kim Parker, a judge, made an opening statement along with John Quaglione, deputy chief of staff to Golden. They expressed the importance of events and contests like these, that they not only promote the idea of a clean planet, but also promote creative and analytical writing.
“Lessons like this are actually learned and taken into the student’s lives and classrooms,” said Quaglione.
For the competition, people filled the seats in the school cafeteria to hear 21 finalists (out of 500 submissions) recite their essays for a panel of judges including Parker; Debra Barreto, deputy director, customer relations at the city’s Department of Sanitation; Josephine Beckmann, district manager, Community Board 10; Doris Cruz, vice chair, CB 10; and Laurie Windsor, president of Community Education Council District 20.
One by one, students stood in front of the audience of over 150 people to read their essays and share their ideas on how to keep their communities clean. Some thought to make garbage cans brighter and better looking like the ones in amusement parks or to create school anti-litter teams that could compete with other schools. Some thought of catchy slogans to put on signs to go around the neighborhood or “adopt-a-block” programs and even garbage can basketball hoops.
The senator shared some words with the young writers and talked about the importance of the Go Green movement, stressing, “Fighting litter is a lifetime job.” Golden also shared facts about the impact of average trash items and how long it takes for them to break down. Then, he invited all finalists to come up and sign the new sign designed for the “Don’t Drop It” campaign which will hang in his office.
When it came time to name the winner, Golden reminded the students that they were all winners. In first place was Fiona Costello of St. Patrick’s Catholic Academy, who won a pizza party for her class and a $100 gift card. The second place winner, Diana Stoupakis of P.S. 186, won a $50 gift card and the third place winner, Agnes Keough of Visitation Academy, won a $25 gift card.