PALS CLEAN CAMPUS CAMPAIGN PICKS UP STEAM
Alba Middle School's ALBA Club was just living up to its name last fall when it captured the No. 1 Clean Campus Award from Alabama PALS (People Against A Littered State) and Alfa Insurance.
That's because the Bayou La Batre middle school's ALBA Club gets its name, not only from the school itself but also from an acronym for "Alba Landscaping & Beautification Association." So, it wasn't that unusual to see its members working hard to make their campus clean and beautiful.
"They did a phenomenal job," Mary Stanford, PALS' coordinator for the statewide Clean Campus program, said of the Alba students. "The kids are really into this. They have a garden club, planted a butterfly garden, composted food and have a recycling program that's going strong."
It marked the fourth time that Alba Middle School has captured first place -- and the $1,000 scholarship award that goes with it. It twice finished as runner-up. The club, which boasted 130 members in sixth- through eighth-grades last year, meets after school at least once a week and on Saturdays at least twice a month to aid in cleanup projects.
"I'm very proud of them," said club sponsor Lana McGuff, who was presented with the PALS Vulcan Governor's Volunteer of the Year Award last year. "Not many kids will give up Saturdays to weed and recycle. It's pretty cool to see teenagers getting into it. They'll even fuss at other students if they see them littering! I love the Clean Campus program because it not only helps the students with self esteem but it teaches them about their environment and how they can help it."
The Alabama Clean Campus Program, co-sponsored by Alfa Insurance, is one of six Alabama PALS programs designed to assist Alabama cities, counties, schools and communities in litter prevention, cleanup and control. PALS also coordinates the Adopt-A-Mile, Adopt-An-Area, Adopt-A-Stream, Coastal
Cleanup and Spring Cleanup programs throughout the state.
The Clean Campus program, however, takes its environmental awareness message into the schools where it takes root with young stewards such as those in the ALBA Club.
"You can easily see it's working," said Stanford. "You can see it in the younger kids when you ask them questions, and they say their mothers and teachers are recycling, and they're learning to reuse things."
The Clean Campus program is available at no cost to all Alabama public and private schools. PALS provides all supporting materials.
All Alabama schools receive a Clean Campus brochure and application form in September of each year. An application form can also be obtained by calling the PALS office any time during the current school year. Each participating school will be able to nominate their respective campus for the annual Clean Campus competition. Nomination forms are sent to all participating schools in July of each year and are due in the PALS offices in October.
Scholarship awards in the amount of $1,000, $750 and $500 are presented to the first-, second- and third-place winners. The presentations are made at the annual PALS Governor's Awards Program, held in Montgomery in November of each year.
Another part of the Governor's Awards is an annual poster contest for K-6 students and an essay contest for grades 7-12. May 9 was the deadline for those contests, which offered a $250 first prize and plaques for second and third places.
"You can pick up litter from now on, but we are just going to have to quit doing that," said Stanford. "We've got to stress that it's easier to just not litter in the first place, and we're teaching that by starting with the kids.
"The Clean Campus program has been one of the most welcomed programs we have ever initiated," she added. "It has really taken on a life of its own. I believe it's kind of like the way we once were about using safety belts in the car. These kids understand what the litter problem is and they know that there's no excuse for it."
For more information, call (334) 263-7737 or 800-ALAPALS or visit www.AlPals.org.