Schenectady High School students put aside their book bags Wednesday and instead picked up garbage bags and rakes.
About 50 students participated in an afterschool cleanup, which extended beyond the school grounds into the side streets along The Plaza. Other school staff and community mentors from the Boys and Girls Club joined in the effort.
Teresa Brown, a supervisor at Schenectady High School, said these cleanups had been done off and on in the past, but the administration hopes to make it a more regular occurrence for the students.
“I think they get a sense of pride in their school and in taking care of their school and community,” she said.
It is also a way to build a more positive image for the high school, which sometimes has a reputation for being dangerous. The school had been listed on the state’s “persistently dangerous” schools list from 2008 to 2011.
“It really isn’t. Kids are comfortable coming in,” she said.
Many of the volunteers were part of clubs such as the Anime Club, Junior ROTC, Key Club, Student Ambassadors, Community Service Club and the Gay-Straight Alliance.
“It helps the community,” said Anime Club member Victoria Shafer, 15, who found a lot of cigarette butts, as well as a broken comb and a candy wrapper.
Sophomore Purnesh Chunilall, 14, said people shouldn’t be so careless with their litter.
“There’s just a garbage can right there if you walk a few more steps,” he said.
Sophomore Carlos Rosario, 16, shared a similar sentiment when asked why he wanted to participate.
“I kind of stepped in something; I don’t know what it was, so I said, ‘You know what, I’m going to clean up,’ ” he said.
Raking was no problem for 16-year-old junior Shaune-Anthony Sundown, as he has helped out at home and earned money around his neighborhood.
“I’ve been doing it for a little while, so it’s kind of second nature,” he said.
Sundown was attempting to earn community service credits for his International Baccalaureate degree, an advanced academic program for high school students around the world.
Science teacher Danielle Budlong said the event was a way to connect the school to its neighbors.
“Our kids walk up and down these streets every day, so we want to let them know we’re involved in picking up everything in the area of the school,” she said.