2006-07-13 / Letters/Opinion

Guest Column

City Kids Win Golden Apples For Stomping Out Litter
John J. Doherty Sanitation Commissioner

John J. Doherty
Sanitation Commissioner

If the future of our city depends on our youth. New York City is in excellent hands! And I can attest to that. Recently, I had the privilege of presenting Team Up to Clean Up (TUTCU) awards to two of this year's Golden Apple contest winners.

The Golden Apple annual competition - open only to schools in New York City - consists of three contests: TrashMasters! Team Up to Clean Up, the "Grand Dad" of Golden Apple contests, which for the past 28 years has encouraged students to clean up and beautify their schools and neighborhoods; TrashMasters! Super Recyclers, showcasing model NYC school recycling programs; and TrashMasters! Reduce and Reuse Challenge. This year's winning schools submitted original and imaginative clean up and beautification projects, as well as recycling and waste prevention initiatives. And they won not only honors, but also cash prizes.

My confidence in our "Stomp Out Litter" message was raised at two recent TUTCU Award ceremonies: one at St. Joseph-Hill Academy in my home borough of Staten Island, and the other at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Public School 34 elementary school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

St. Joseph-Hill Academy was the Staten Island and citywide winner in the high school division of TrashMasters! Team Up to Clean Up. Students completed an impressive array of hands-on projects, and participated in graffiti removal and beach cleanups. The students, who have an ongoing involvement as Junior Friends of Clove Lakes Park, also conducted a sweepstakes to encourage families to participate in the Department of Sanitation's fall leaf collection program.

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt school was the Manhattan and citywide winner in the elementary division of TrashMasters! Team Up To Clean Up. This school's Kindergarten and fifth grade students turned a yard within the school property that had been little more than a rubble-strewn dump, into a beautiful garden. In the process, the children learned about teamwork, soil, plants, trees, insects, etc. The school worked with various community organizations, even inviting Eleanor & Franklin Roosevelt's great-granddaughter to rededicate a garden tree, originally planted by Eleanor Roosevelt and left pretty much on its own until the kids took control.

Another TUTCU winner was the Chris Galas school P.S. 47, in Broad Channel that won the Queens and citywide divisions of TrashMasters! Team Up to Clean Up for their project "Xtreme Makeover, School Edition: School Facelift" that had fifth, seventh and eighth graders research and repaint a mural on their outside school wall, test soil, redefine the existing garden, and conduct an anti-litter poster campaign.

There were also some surprises.

At the TUTCU award ceremonies both in Broad Channel and on the Lower East Side, in addition to receiving a trophy, an award certificate and a check, the kids and their teachers got a real surprise. After watching the exciting public service announcement Stomp Out Litter by the international theatre percussion sensation Stomp - part of Sanitation's latest anti-litter campaign - Stomp member Jason Mills jumped on stage and conducted a live interactive percussion performance that had the kids, their teachers - and this Commissioner - clapping and stomping in their seats!

I congratulate all winners of the three Golden Apple contests. These students and their teachers worked very hard and submitted great projects, involving clean up/ beautification projects and innovative approaches on how to better support the City's ambitious recycling program and how to reduce the amount of waste we all generate. All the winning projects displayed great imagination, creativity and lots of hard work!

I thank the schools that participated in this year's Golden Apple contests but didn't win an award ... just keep in mind: there's always next year! I hope that in 2007 you'll enter one of the three contests and walk away with an award!

As to this year's contests... it's a great feeling to know that the city's younger generation is so involved and dedicated to improving the Big Apple's quality of life. After all, as Mayor Bloomberg reminds us, New York City's streets are cleaner today than they have been in over 30 years.

Keep up the good work!

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