Students Clean Highway, Earn Community Service Hours

Written by Robert Herrington
Monday, 23 April 2007

Walking along a highway picking up trash on a Saturday morning might not seem like fun to most high school seniors, but it sure beats having to go to school after they graduate.

More than 175 Noblesville High School students joined together to volunteer their Saturday morning to help beautify a 4-mile stretch of Indiana 37 through the heart of Noblesville. Combined they contributed more than 600 hours of community service.

NHS English teacher Bill Kenley, who serves as a committee member for Keep Noblesville Beautiful, said that 75 percent of the students were seniors.

NHS seniors elected to participate in 13 hours of community service to replace two days of school missed earlier this semester because of snow. That decision allows the school to keep commencement on the scheduled date of June 1 without students having to attend classes after that date.

"When I heard they had all those hours, I thought we ought to provide an opportunity for the kids, Kenley said.

The students met at the high school at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and worked along the sides of Indiana 37 picking up garbage until noon. They avoided cleaning the median due to safety reasons.

"I think what most of the adult volunteers out here found out is that most of the kids actually really start enjoying doing this," Kenley said. "Once they got out here, they worked really hard. I think they liked the idea behind the project."

The students were also blessed with a sunny day that featured a nice breeze and low humidity.

"It's one of those rare days. We were charmed," Kenley said.

"It"s good exercise and not too hot," NHS senior Aimee Dugan said.

Dugan paired up with classmate Lisa Miele who stated as her reason for volunteering as hours for graduation and "because Mr. Kenley's cool, and we believe in his project."

While walking, the two found three dead cats, a lead pipe and several hubcaps.

"People throw out some of the grossest things," Miele said.

Students were informed on how to properly deal with anything that was out of the ordinary, and hazardous.

"They wanted us to make sure we looked out for dangerous things on the side of the road," said senior Kenny Vanvelzen. "We were told to flag the stuff if it was too dangerous."

Along with debris on the side of the road, students were told to watch out for other items that were commonly found along highways.

"Trucker Bombs is a new term we learned today," said senior Joe Gangnin. "It's when truckers pee into a bottle and throw it out the window."

Instead of being in his bed asleep, NHS senior Thomas Curtis, like the other volunteers, donned blue latex gloves and a neon green shirt as he worked Saturday morning.

"It's fun to take the time and do something good," he said.

Curtis has volunteered time at NHS girl track meets, and with the Saturday's project is close to completing his required hours. While working the southbound side of Indiana 37 from Field Drive to Indiana 32, he found an old glass Mountain Dew soda bottle buried underneath other discarded trash. But the item he and most students found in abundance was cigarette butts.

"I wasn't surprised at the amount of trash, but how many cigarette butts there are," he said. "There's a lot. It gets frustrating. For every one you pick up, you see 10 more."

"About 90 percent of the trash is cigarette butts," NHS junior Wes Bremer said.

Bremer walked alongside fellow junior Scott Sorensen. The two were volunteering their time to compete hours toward National Honor Society. If Bremer had not been volunteering Saturday, he said he would be "doing something selfish compared to this."

Staff reporter Amie Slevin contributed to this story.