Students dream of state championships. At Alba Middle School, the Alba Landscaping Beautification Association (ALBA) Club claims that honor as the 2011 Alabama PALS (People Against a Littered State) Clean Campus award winner.
“(We’re) No. 1 in the state in something that normally no one wants to have a part of, and it’s something more important to your school, to your community, than anything,” said Lana McGuff, ALBA Club advisor and school librarian. “We’re teaching recycling, personal responsibility, ownership and pride.”
Sponsored by Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Cooperative, the Clean Campus program involves students in stewardship projects to keep schools litter-free and beautiful. There is no fee to join, and all public and private schools in the state are eligible to participate. More than 550 schools competed in last year’s contest.
The ALBA Club has participated in the Clean Campus program for eight years and is a perennial champion, placing in the top three each year. As last year’s champion, the club received a $1,000 scholarship and a sign to hang in their school.
“For the first six months of school after we get that sign, it goes in the front of the school,” McGuff said. She wants to make sure all the students know and are proud of their clean campus.
The Alba Club participates in projects like Coastal Clean-up, recycling and decorating Mariner Park in downtown Bayou La Batre. Each year, they pick a special project to beautify school grounds and maintain projects from previous years.
Evidence of ALBA Club’s work and dedication surrounds the school, from a butterfly garden and fountain in between buildings, to hanging flowerpots and flowerbeds at the entrance.
Seventh grader Allyson Cornelius said she enjoys being involved and feels great knowing she’s giving back to her community.
“You’re with your friends, so that’s fun,” Cornelius said. “Some people may think digging in the dirt is hard work, but when you’re with people you want to be with, that makes it fun.”
McGuff says she is very proud of the students because they are the ones doing the work.
“It gives them a feeling of ownership of the campus, and that’s why our campus is clean,” McGuff said.
For more information about the Clean Campus program and how local schools can get involved, visit www.AlPals.org/CleanCampus.asp.