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Stepping up for a cleaner environment
Burton Middle School’s Green Team — a campus club that meets every Friday to clean the campus and collect campus recyclables — spent Wednesday cleaning an area close to home, the Porter Creek Slew.
“I was hoping it wouldn’t be too wet today, the kids have been looking forward to this event for a long time,” said club adviser John Lujan after a rainy Tuesday night. “Imagine that, teenagers looking forward to hard work.”
In September, Lujan was asked to enter his club into the Tulare County Board of Supervisors Step Up Challenge.
“Most clubs choose to Step Up against drugs, violence, gangs or bullies, but the BMS Green Team opted to take a different route,” said Joseph Campagna, president of the BMS Green Team. “They decided to Step Up against depression and to build self-esteem through community activism.”
It was during October’s Step Up Challenge, where team members set Feb. 20 as the date for the team’s community project.
The team spent the day picking up trash and painting over graffiti.
“Working together at the river cleanup we felt that nothing can stop us if we work together and stay determined to accomplish our goals,” Campagna said. “For us the river cleanup stands for more than what it seems, it also represents a cleansing of the economy, the city and ourselves.”
The Green Team not only cleans the environmental pollution; it prevents environmental destruction.
“We also help everyone to feel like they will always belong somewhere, and that they all have a role to play in life,” Campagna said.
The club also raises a school garden and composts all left over green material from the cafeteria.
The 13 Step Up student members have inspired the club to be more active in the community. They have been involved in the Kiwanis annual Haunted House and Toys for Tots drive.
In collaboration with the Key Club from Harmony Magnet Academy they also recently made Valentine cards for wounded veterans at Fresno Veterans Hospital.
In addition, Step Up members Elizabeth Zavala, Jhesse Salvador, Joseph Campagna, and Michaela Lambert have presented speeches to the Kiwanis Club, Breakfast Lions and the Burton School District board meeting.
The Step Up club represents a connection of belonging that everyone has somewhere deep inside, Campagna said.
“With the Step Up club, everyone can start stepping up to prevent pollution and bullying,” he said.
Assisting the green team to help make the river clean up a success, were the Boys and Girls Club at BMS.
“I am so proud of these guys, what teenager gives up their afternoon to pick up trash and paint over graffiti,” Lujan said. “I’m a teacher, and the students have taught me how to be a better citizen. If we listen, kids have a lot to say with both their words and their actions.”