If the amount of rubbish collected near Oakgrove Integrated College on Thursday had been a turkey it would have fed the entire Derry City F.C. team on Christmas Day.
Students from Groarty Integrated PS and Oakgrove Integrated College joined forces in the grounds of the Gransha based school and took the fight to local litter bugs.
At the end of the exercise the small group of school children collected 20 kilograms of rubbish and according to biology technician, Pam Hardeman, it’s only the tip of the iceberg.
“It’s great to see Groarty Integrated P.S. out here today. The children from both schools get on really well together and it’s also good to see the youngsters so enthusiastic about the environment.”
Groarty Integrated PS is located near Ballymagroarty and since the beginning of the year they’ve been on a environmental revolution.
“Bringing the children here today is just a natural extension of all of the work we have been doing in school,” said acting school principal and primary five, six and seven teacher, Miss Tina Keys.
“Our school would have an excellent relationship with Oakgrove Integrated College and many of our primary sevens end up going there so it’s great for them to see what the school is like before deciding to come here or not.”
Leading the small group through the sleet and the snow on Thursday morning was local community gardener and North West Regional College horticulture lecturer, Gareth Austin.
“You wouldn’t think to look at the school that were was so much rubbish lying around but credit to the school children, they refused to let the cold and wet weather dampen their spirits and they took to the task like litter lifters possessed.
“It might be cold and yes it’s certainly wet but there’s a great atmosphere here today. Everyone you see here is passionate about the environment and it’s important we get that message through to all of the children.
“I’ve been doing a lot of work with the school children at Groarty Integrated P.S. and I can honestly say they might be a small school but when it comes to the environment they are one of the biggest.
“The teachers and the school children are all determined to do their bit to make the environment better. They have their own wild bird area at the school and they even grew a crop of Irish Lumper (the potato used in Ireland during the Great Famine in the 19th century).”
Sixteen year-old Cuan Higgenbotham is a lower sixth student at Oakgrove Integrated College.
Cuan, who is also a Prefect, said he was only too happy to welcome the primary school children to the school and couldn’t believe how much waste they had collected.
“Like a few people have already said, if people would put their rubbish into a bin we wouldn’t have this problem.
“I’ve seen people throw away plastic bottles and empty crisp packets when a bin is only a few feet away from them.
“It’s nice to see primary school children visit the school because they are the ones who will have to carry on the mantle in years to come.”
Ten year-old George Peoples is in primary six at Groarty Integrated P.S.
George, who is passionate about the environment, said he would love to go to Oakgrove Integrated College in the near future and added that he enjoyed his day battling against the litter bugs.
“If I am honest, it’s always nice to get out of school. We have been working very hard on our environmental project at school so it’s good to be able to help another school out too,” he smiled.
Eleven year-old Sarah Ramsey is also a student at Groarty Integrated P.S. and she was amazed at the variety of what they discovered during the litter pick.
“I found a bottle full of stale milk - what’s that all about? There were hundreds of plastic bottles and plastic wrappers.
“I can’t understand why young people would litter their school. Surely it would make more sense to put it in the bin.”