St. Dennis students clean up surrounding neighborhoods Print
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, May. 08, 2014 -- 12:00 AM
Students at St. Dennis School in Madison have a Community Clean-Up Day
St. Dennis School in Madison kindergartener Baily Wirth (left) walks with excitement next to eighth grader Regan Trinastic (center) and sixth grader Peter Conrad (right) as the school’s Community Clean-Up Day gets underway. Students and teachers spent part of an afternoon walking the surrounding neighborhoods and picking up trash. To view or purchase photos, visit
(Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

MADISON -- On the beautiful spring day of Wednesday, April 23, students at St. Dennis School in Madison excitedly put on their coats and hurriedly made their way to the doors while teachers and staff -- also with smiles on their faces -- did their best to keep all the kids from running outside at once.

The students weren't about to leave on a field trip, go on a picnic, or have recess. They were happy because they were about to go help their community, or more specifically pick up trash, and they couldn’t wait to get started.

On the day after Earth Day, the school on Madison's east side had its annual Community Clean-Up Day. Every year, students walk through the surrounding neighborhoods near the school to collect and dispose of trash they find along the way.

"We're just trying to do our part to help keep our community and earth clean and just show the kids a little bit of taking responsibility and helping out," said teacher Amanda Polzer, who coordinated the clean-up day.

Yearly tradition

St. Dennis has been participating in the clean-up day for several years, and it's become a school favorite. All of the students -- from 4K to eighth grade -- take part in the clean-up efforts. They spend an hour picking up whatever garbage they find.

The students are put together in several groups, with a range of students in all ages in each group. The older students take on a leadership role, holding the large bags where the trash is collected. The younger students are the ones most eager to pick up the trash -- sometimes running or racing each other to get it.

"It's really fun to watch the little kids -- how excited they are. Even though it’s picking up trash, it's kind of funny to watch them," said seventh grader Anna Sniadach, who has participated in the clean-up since she was in kindergarten.

"It is pretty fun to be able to be with everyone because when one person sees a piece of trash, everyone just kind of runs over to see who can get it first," said seventh grader Emma Duper.

Some groups compete with other groups, or within their own group, to see who can collect the most trash, or who can get to the trash the quickest when it is spotted.

"It's really fun to see all the little kids dive and really get after each other to get the trash," said seventh grader Bennett Wessley.

A fun day of clean-up

The busy street of Dempsey Rd. was a treasure trove of trash for the lucky students who were in the group that walked south of the school toward Cottage Grove Rd.

One group of students also walked the grounds of the school and church to pick up any stray papers, cans, or other random items that may have ended up there.

Whether one looks at it as picking up garbage or "helping out the earth," as Wessley put it, the kids love it.

"The kindergarteners were pumped this afternoon that they could get out of class and go and pick up garbage," said Polzer.

Students at St. Dennis encourage other schools to clean up their respective surrounding neighborhoods.

"It's really fun when we’re all working together to do this, and it helps the earth," said Sniadach

"It has good memories, so hopefully it'll keep going down for years and years," said Wessley. "If more schools join in, it'll really help out the community with less trash."

"It is something that's fun to do with everyone," added Dupor.


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