Students make Kings Beach streets shine
A handful of North Tahoe Middle School students meandered down Brook Avenue Wednesday morning with a purpose, trash bags in hand.
The middle school students scoured the streets for bits of paper, discarded bottles and the occasional treasure.
The students were taking the time to clean up the back streets to show pride in their community.
The student-run group picks up trash on a different street in Kings Beach’s grid each week. Ashlee Vikse, a North Tahoe Middle School eighth-grader, calls and organizes the kids each week. For Vikse, the weekly two hours will go toward the 40 hours of community service required of all North Tahoe eighth-grade students.
Community service is an important aspect of education that is not necessarily taught in the classroom, said Kelly Swarberg-Ogilvy, a physical education teacher at North Tahoe Middle who supervises the group.
“[The students are] trying out different jobs,” Swarberg-Ogilvy said. “I just think it’s really important for the kids to get a different view [on life]. Commun-ity service] is just one of those things where they can feel good about themselves.”
Each week, the students collect several trash bags of discarded junk that otherwise would litter the streets. The students also paint over graffiti, focusing on the lower end of the grid.
“[Cleaning the community] teaches us a lot because we know how to take care of places where we live and not trash it ourselves,” said Ruthi Ibarra, a 12-year-old Kings Beach resident.
“I feel good because [the streets] look prettier,” said student Maritza Estrada. “If people see us around, they’ll probably do the same thing.”
And, perhaps most importantly, the kids are having a good time. The weekly gathering helps introduce younger students, who will enter the middle school this fall, to older students.
“You get to help the community, and you get to hang out with your friends,” said Danielle Vickse, an 11-year-old who will start middle school this fall.
The North Tahoe Business Association donated the cleaning supplies left over from its annual cleanup day to the group, and the North Tahoe Public Utility District picks up the full trash bags each week.