As Max Trask grabbed handfuls of leaves this morning and shoved them into a black plastic bag held by his classmate Garrett Jackson, he announced that cleaning up Beaufort was "a lot funner than math."
Students from Riverview Charter School took to the streets and parks of Beaufort, Port Royal and the Sea Islands on Wednesday for their spring service-learning projects, which included painting signs and fire hydrants and picking up leaves and trash.
"We try to teach them that when you're serving, you are not only helping others but it's also making you feel good," Riverview curriculum coordinator Ann Marie Bowden said.
While getting out of class was fun, Trask also said he liked his group's task of cleaning up one of the "Preserved View" locations in The Point neighborhood by repainting the sign and clearing the grass of debris, because their work made it look better.
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On Ribaut Road, Josh Gibson supervised his son, Jefferson, and three other seventh-graders as they applied bright red and sparkling silver paint to faded fire hydrants.
"I think it's great because we're making the community look better," Jefferson Gibson said. "This fire hydrant was in a very bad state before, and so now it looks a lot better."
His father simply liked the idea of the students volunteering.
"I think it's great that they get out and have the idea of giving back to the community, because being part of a community means giving back," he said.
More than 400 students from kindergarten to eighth grade cleaned up areas including Heritage Naval Park, the Port Royal Cypress Wetlands, Penn Center on St. Helena, Hunting Island Nature Center, Fort Fremont and The Point.
"There's a civics lesson there," said Peter Hussey, part of the Beautify Beaufort organization that worked with the students. "Things don't just happen because we have a city government. Things happen because people get involved, even young people."
Most of the sites were chosen to fit with the curriculum, such as history or the ecosystem, curriculum coordinator Bowden said.
In Port Royal, the younger children went on a trash scavenger hunt, in which they were supposed to find a piece of trash from every letter of the alphabet. They were eager to work, Deputy Police Chief Ron Wekenmann said, but they ran into a problem:
There wasn't enough trash.