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Nicholson elementary revamps campus with project

Litter at Nicholson Elementary was the focus of last week’s curriculum and was a precursor to the new additions conducted on and around the walking track this weekend.

With help from a National Youth Leadership Council Service Grant students and parent volunteers made many new additions to the Nicholson walking track at the Elementary school Saturday.

Some of the projects the students worked on yesterday included making and painting birdhouses and painting trash cans to be placed in the community. Parent volunteers built a gazebo along the walking track, a new volleyball court and a tetherball court.

The bird houses will be used at school and in the community, said Nicholson Elementary Vice Principal Mary Williams.

“They’re painting two a piece, one to take home to the community and one to have here on campus,” Williams said.

The gazebo appeared to be the largest task undertaken by volunteers who donated their Saturday to the construction of it. Lumber to build the gazebo was also purchased with the NYLC grant.

“That will be an area of rest for those that are walking,” Williams said about the gazebo.

Each project booth, such as where birdhouses were made and thank you notes were written, was manned with students from the Jr. High Student Council and members of Team CHAOS, the High School robotics team.

The effort at the school this past weekend was part of Anti-Litter week, which implemented anti-litter curriculum into the teacher’s lesson plans, Williams said. During that week the students wrote poems and made a poster with a fictional character lovingly named Jonathan who was surrounded by trash.

In the future each of the seven grade levels will have a designated campus area to keep clean when they have free time.

“Throughout the week they are responsible to keep their area clean,” Williams said.

The walking track will also get some painting done to it with hopscotch, shuffleboard and a map of the United States so children can practice their states, Williams said. The basketball court is also slated to have court markings added to it.

Hours for community members to utilize the walking trail and exercise stations positioned throughout the trail are from 3:30 until dark on school days and will also be open on the weekends. The area will close at dusk on Sunday as well, said Nicholson Elementary Principal Vera Beech.

The walking track was built some time after Hurricane Katrina with funds from the Picayune City Council and the exercise stations positioned on the track were built with help from student volunteers from Rowan University Engineering in New Jersey, Beech said.

Volunteers were kept refreshed with hot dogs and chips purchased with the NYLC grant and drinks and the food booth were provided by the Coca-Cola Company, Williams said. Cookies for the event were baked by teachers and Classic Cookie donated the dough, she said. Volunteers got an early start, arriving early in the morning at about 7:30 and planed to work until some time in the afternoon. Before any work began that morning the volunteers went around the campus and picked up any trash they may have come across. Williams estimates that about 100 people have volunteered their time to work.