By Jared Janzen
BENTLEY—Bentley should be pretty spotless this week after the school district sent out two grade levels Tuesday morning to pick up trash throughout the city.
The activity was part of the buddy program between Halstead Middle School and Bentley Primary School, where seventh-graders partner up with third-graders to help prepare them for the transition to middle school next year.
“I think it was actually really fun to be with the third-graders,” seventh-grader Reece Carmichael said after finishing the litter cleanup. His classmate, Ian Huxman, agreed.
“It was really fun, just getting to interact with them,” he said, adding overall it was just a good experience.
The third- and seventh-grade classes were divided into seven groups that scoured the town. Some of the students Harvey County Now talked to were in a group that filled two bags with trash, and other students were in a group that only found about half a bag of trash.
“I thought we’d find a little bit more, honestly,” seventh-grader Hudson Harrington said. “We had no full bags.”
The group who filled two bags cleaned up around Williams Park and found quite a bit of trash in the treeline. Carmichael said the biggest thing they found was a scrap of metal, but he didn’t know what it was.
“It’s nice to give back to Bentley and help out,” Carmichael added.
This wasn’t the first experience these older students had with picking up litter.
“We’ve done the Rake and Run, and we pick up trash sometimes on the Rake and Run,” Harrington said.
“Our Fresh Start walks around the school and to pick up trash around the building,” Carmichael added.
The seventh-graders agreed they’ve enjoyed the buddy program with their third-grade partners.
“My third-grader is the best third-grader,” Whitney McGlothlin said. “Because she’s my friend and she loves me and I love her back.”
Students pointed out several benefits to the buddy program.
“I feel like this is a good idea, because when they’re fourth graders, we’ll already know them,” Carmichael said.
“It helps prevent bullying,” seventh-grader Parker Metoyer added.
“I hope we get to see them around the middle school,” Huxman said.
Seventh-grader Cariel Perez chimed in they should do stuff like this more often.
Bentley Primary School Principal Adam Conard noted this was the second year that third and seventh graders have done a cleanup project around Bentley. That first time, however, was several years ago because of COVID-19 disruptions.
Halstead Middle School Principal Jana Wedel said students were instructed to only pick up things that don’t belong in nature.
“We had a little standing joke this morning about biodegradable stays there,” she said. “The first year they brought us back a [dead] squirrel.”
The litter cleanup this week was the third activity the two grade levels have done together over the past few months for the buddy program. They’ve been partnered one-on-one for the most part.
“Occasionally, there’s either two seventh-graders to one third-grader, depending on numbers,” Wedel added.
The first activity in the buddy program was a get-to-know-you activity at the primary school. The second time, they met at the middle school, and students and their buddies rotated through three stations of physical activity, technology trivia and board games.
Coming up in May, Wedel said the third-graders will take another trip to the middle school for the morning and get to sit in the gym for the morning assembly.
“They’ll meet fourth-graders at that point, too, but then the seventh-graders will take them on a tour of the building and do some activities to learn where their classrooms are, where the lunch line is, where band and music are, those types of things so they’re not totally lost,” Wedel said.
She added they hoped to plan some activities for the buddies next year when they’re fourth and eighth graders. A couple years ago when they did this, students painted rocks for the outdoor classroom with their buddies, and students also organized a buddy night during a basketball game.
“That was all student-led,” Wedel said. “We didn’t have anything to do with that. They just showed up and did it. Hopefully this group will do that, too.”