Spartans bring home victory

Alex Stein and Aidan Mcgrath spent a chunk of their time digging out trash from the frozen lake. They smashed through the ice with sticks so they could pull out beer bottles and containers.

Photo courtesy of Anne Foote

Alex Stein and Aidan Mcgrath spent a chunk of their time digging out trash from the frozen lake. They smashed through the ice with sticks so they could pull out beer bottles and containers.

Interact and Key club dominated the Accotink cleanup competition, beating out six other schools as they collected the most trash and won a pizza party.  

Interact and Key club worked with FLAP, Friends of Lake Accotink Park, in a Trash Off—a High School Showdown to improve the community and clean up the park. 

Six schools (Annandale, Hayfield, Edison, Lewis, Woodson, and West Springfield high school) had two hours to collect as much trash as physically possible. Over a hundred participants raced to clean the park.

“I am a member of the cross country and track team at West Springfield. As part of it, I run at Lake Accotink almost every day. I’ve noticed trash along trails before, but it wasn’t until this clean up that I realized how much trash there really was,” said junior Lexi Stein. “Each school had piles of trash bags and other items dangerous to the environment piled up and we weren’t even able to reach all of the parts of the park.”

Although a competition, all of the students participating were working towards cleaning and improving the park. The comradery among teammates was not missed as groups sang together, took photos, and trekked through the rocks and water. The park was littered with students wearing neon yellow vests as they picked up trash from the water banks, trails, dam, picnic grounds, and fence lining. 

“The number of students from surrounding schools was inspiring as it reflected how many people really care about helping their community. This event definitely inspires me to continue contributing my time to local causes,” said Stein. 

Volunteering is a requirement for certain awards at graduation including the Civics Seal and service learning cord. The cleanup at Accotink allowed students to fulfill three hours of community service while simultaneously working towards those goals. 

“Volunteering is my favorite way to give back to my community. Many people claim they are unable to do service to their community because they cannot afford to give money. However, time also is a valuable entity which many people forget,” said Stein. “Sometimes donating time is more valuable than money. Volunteering allows someone to become an active participant in their community and become more in touch with the world around them.”

To continue sharing the power of volunteering, FLAP is working towards maintaining the park and inspiring members of the community to respectably use the resources it provides. They are planning another Trash Off in April. More information can be found at flapaccotink.org. The Interact and Key clubs also meet once a month where they share volunteer opportunities. Information can be found at their Instagram’s @wshs_interactclub and @wskeyclub.