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Cleaning up Washington Square

Alex Doty • May 4, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Grand Haven’s Washington Square bustled with activity Tuesday morning as Mary A. White Elementary School students swarmed flower beds and sidewalks with brooms, rakes and shovels.

Fourth-graders from Andrew Ratke and Angi Huntington’s classes participated in a service learning project, and helped clean the business district’s flower beds, sidewalks and curbs, and collected trash and put down fresh mulch.

“They were very happy and elated to join us, and they’re doing a fantastic job,” Assistant to the City Manager Vester Davis said. “Getting up this morning, I was very excited to join the fourth-graders here and get my hands dirty before returning to the office in the afternoon.“

According to Davis, about 50 students, teachers and chaperones participated in the volunteer effort, which also included a pizza lunch provided by Dominos and hosted by Pfaff Pharmacy.

CLICK HERE to see more photos and video from the event.

This is the second time in less than a week that Huntington’s students have helped the city. Her class participated in the city’s Arbor Day tree planting ceremony at Clinton and Fourth streets last week.

”We just enjoy giving back to the community, and we like to put the kids to work,“ Huntington said. ”We want to teach them to appreciate our streets, our Earth, our city and our town.“

Huntington noted that the fourth-graders are “ready and willing to do whatever is asked of them.”

“They absolutely love it, and they feel a sense of pride,” she said. “They have that sense of pride and ownership like, ’Yeah we did this, we helped out.’”

A class volunteer project has become a regular occurrence for the Mary A. White students.

”Every year, we like to do a service project,“ Huntington said. ”We’ve done things like work with nursing homes. And last year, we went to Harbor Humane Society and worked with the animals — worked with them for the day, and cleaned and did laundry, and folded and cleaned the cages.“

Huntington said this year’s project came about after a conversation with Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis.

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