Fort Dodge Middle Schools helped keep their community clean for Earth Day Tuesday.
"We were contacted by the (Greater Fort Dodge) Growth Alliance to help participate in the foreign object debris collection as a celebration of Earth Day," said Ryan Flaherty, FDMS assistant principal. "All of our students and teachers thought it would be a great way to help out in the community."
The students, in waves from morning through the afternoon, began by cleaning the middle school grounds and spread out to cleaning neighboring sidewalks and the grounds at Rosedale Rapids Aquatic Center.
Fort Dodge Middle School student Jacob Laird, left, races up to student Aiden Trimble to put trash into an orange bag. Hundreds of other students spread across the FDMS grounds to clean up for Earth Day Tuesday.
"What we decided to do, since the middle school is brand new, is we're going to clean up on the grounds, the sidewalks and the areas around our building in order to help keep our school looking nice," Flaherty said. "We also try to fan out and clean up at the aquatic center, and reach out to some of the retail centers where the other adults are cleaning up, so we're not only cleaning up our school, but also around our community."
There is an important lesson Flaherty hopes the students will learn from the effort.
"Something we're trying to instill in our students, and our staff, is that we need to have pride not only in our school system, but also in our community," he said. "As our community continued to grow and attract businesses, it's important that when people come and visit our community that they have a good image of what Fort Dodge is like. And part of that is having a clean community and having citizens and students that care about keeping it clean."
Flaherty said seeing both his students and staff being enthusiastic about participating in this effort was heartening.
"When Todd Redenius (GFDGA community development director) contacted us, we took a poll from our teachers to see who would be interested, and we were really excited to see a great response from the teachers," he said. "The students were really excited to get out and enjoy the fresh air, but also do a little something to give back."
He added, "It's definitely a positive day for our school and for our school district to see our kids giving back."