Western Tech students pick up litter and an award

Western Tech wins $2,000 for students' cleanup efforts

For the second consecutive year, the Western School of Technology and Environmental Science has been named the top high school in Baltimore County Public Schools' Clean Green 15 Challenge.

The magnet high school was named the winner in the high school division of the challenge, which also featured winners in the elementary school and middle school divisions.

As first-place winners, Western Tech, Charlesmont Elementary School in Dundalk and Sparrows Point Middle School were each awarded $2,000 grants.

The school used the grant money winnings last year to redo its front garden, according to Kimberly Bickerstaff, the advisor for the school's Green Club and a teacher in the Environmental Science magnet who coordinated the school's effort in the challenge.

"I'm not sure what we're going to spend it on this year," said Bickerstaff, who teaches ecology of Maryland and Advanced Placement biology classes.

The cash grants come from the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools to be used to fund school-based instructional projects emphasizing the theme of environmental literacy, according to a release from the school system.

Bickerstaff said she worked with a number of science teachers at the school to take their classes out for 15 minutes during the day and pick up litter around the Kenwood Avenue campus.

"They're into it," she said of students' response to the request. "It's not that hard of a task, going outside."

Most of the efforts were concentrated during a two-day period in April and another intense period in late May and early June, she said.

Top winner of the challenge was Bear Creek Elementary School, which won the $3,000 grand prize. The Dundalk school's nearly 900 volunteers picked up 13,044 pounds of trash from school grounds and in the community, during two clean-ups, according to a release from the school system.

The schools in the challenge combined to collect nearly 42,000 pounds, according to the release.

Bickerstaff said she did not have exact numbers on how much Western Tech students collected.

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