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East Hamilton student litter patrol

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - Students at East Hamilton Middle-High School are getting a littering problem on their campus under control one piece of trash at a time.

Science teacher Ralph Maples and some of his students spend Thursday outside cleaning up litter off the grounds. It's part of a senior class anti-littering campaign that began in early November at the request of the students.

"Everybody here is contributing to the trash problem. How do we make them stop? And that led to an awareness campaign," explains Maples.

They've been finding all kinds of interesting things.

"Everything from tires to old construction equipment; road cones, plastic bottles, Styrofoam plates," says Maples. "If it can be thrown out the window or thrown out on campus, we've found it."

Much of it, he believes, is discarded by other students while some flows down Hurricane Creek which runs behind the school.

Altogether, his 120 students have started a pretty big pile in less than two weeks, cleaning 30 of the 80 acre campus so far.

One of the students leading the charge is Whitney Spake. She finds candy wrappers, cigarette butts, and other trash in the parking lot every day. It's important to her not only to be environmentally conscious but to take pride in her school's appearance.

"Littering is really bad for the environment and for your school in general," says Spake. "Having trash all over campus makes it look dirty."

Maples says his students have inspired other students to get involved and become interested as the litter pile grows. He believes, through the project, that this generation can make a difference.

"Without mother earth, if we don't look after her, it's going to get ugly," states Maples.

He realizes this project will likely be an ongoing process for students to come, but his current students' interest in getting the process started has him smiling from ear to ear.

"I couldn't be any prouder of them. They're out here working hard," adds Maples.

He says school officials supplying outside trash cans that are locked or secured would be a small start to reducing some of the litter. His classes are about to begin video and poster campaigns to further reach out to the student body and the public regarding the issue. Some of the trash already collected will be made into compost or sent away for recycling. One of Maples' students also wants to launch an official recycling program at the school.
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