For forty five years, The San Francisco School, based in the Portola, has been educating children from preschool through to 8th grade. They are constantly involved in local activities, such as helping with community art projects and sponsoring the annual Portola Garden Tour, to name two. One of the school directors, Charlie Meade, contacted the Portola Planet last week to update us on their latest outing into the neighborhood.
Thirty two 6th graders, 2 teachers and the principal, Steve Morris, took part in the Department of Public Works (DPW) Adopt-A-Street program. As part of the school’s stewardship program and a responsibility to be good neighbors, the students adopted Gaven Street, from Barneveld to Bowdoin.
This was the second year in a row the school had taken a day to clean up the street and although they’ve been doing things like this in the neighborhood for many years, they have been actively engaged the past two years with DPW in this program. Adopt-A-Street works with groups and individuals to create a cleaner, more pleasant environment for everyone who lives, works and shops in adopted areas.
Principal Morris likes to call this approach to education, “service learning” where the school “instills the learning before the exercise.” Steve says that, “Yes, we are performing a community service, but we are learning about the service beforehand. It gives them a deeper investment in what they are doing.” So instead of just pulling up weeds and picking up litter, representatives from DPW spent time with the kids, in the classroom, to educate them on why they were doing this and how the trash actually ends up on the streets. There were some interesting things to learn, the DPW noted the Portola often suffers litter because:
- It’s very windy in our neighborhood. This causes trash to blow out of trash cans and to accumulate at fences and in trees.
- The Portola is a quiet, hidden area of San Francisco. Most of the dumped items (furniture, bags of trash) come from other neighborhoods. Bernal Heights is currently having similar problems.
So on a typically sunny Portola day, the kids hit the streets with DPW supplying materials and a few people to oversee the work and ensure safety. Of all the items found during the cleanup the most common, by far were cigarette butts. Over 1,000 were collected by the kids in just a few hours! The overall goal was to clean between Barneveld and Bowdoin Street, but they ended up finishing around the next block too, up on Sweeny St.
It is great to see our future citizens taking time to ensure where we live is clean. The Portola Planet has in the works a series of articles, with some simple ideas for us all to keep our neighborhood tidy. We’ll be publishing them soon.