04/11/2015 – Allen D. Nease High School International Baccalaureate students completed their 8th annual IB Beach Cleanup project on April 11th. One hundred and fifty five freshmen and sophomore students spread out across all 39 miles of St. Johns County beaches and picked up trash while earning a total of 930 community service hours.
The student’s goal for the project is to help keep St. Johns County beaches clean, save the whales and save our planet. Freshman Alyssa Pearson commented on her experience, “It’s a lot of fun to go out to the beach with your friends but also help the environment at the same time.”
Students were divided into 30 teams of 3 to 7 participants and given gloves and trash bags. Each team was assigned a 1 or 2 mile segment of the beach. The students were supported by 10 parents who manned 3 check in stations and over 30 parents who transported teams to and from the beach. Teams were required to check in prior to starting their cleanup and check out when they had finished. St. Johns County Sherriff’s Office assigned officers to patrol the beaches and be available should any safety needs arise.
Although picking up trash can be seen as work by most teenagers, Sophomore Gray Ingram reported, “It’s great that we can have so much fun while doing a community service project.”
Prizes were awarded at each check in station for Best Team Spirit as well as for Goofiest Beach Photo, Most Creative Beach Photo and Best Beach-Writing-in-the-Sand Photo. Some of the teams went all out this year in their quest for the Best Team Spirit awards and came dressed as fairy princesses and superheroes. Another team donned capes and masks and arrived as the Marvel Avengers. Students also submitted photos of their activities on the beach which yielded some incredibly creative and interesting photos.
The project was supported by numerous community partners including Advanced Disposal who provided funds to support the beach cleanup; Chris Benjamin of St. John’s County Solid Waste Management who provided trash bags and has been a primary supporter of this effort since its inception; Shannon Rininger, Volunteer Coordinator for Guana Tolomato Reserve, who provided access to beaches; and Brittany Sims from Anastasia State Park who waived fees for teams and their drivers and coordinated access to Anastasia St. Park beaches. Additional partners were Max Royle of St. Augustine Beach; Ms. Katie Martyn & Ms. Tara Dodson of the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners and Superintendent Gordon Wilson of the Fort Matanzas National Monument,who approved permits and allowed access to the beaches and the St. Johns County Sherriff’s Office who provided extra beach patrols and safety support. Roger Exum of the Ponte Vedra Club, Tim Majure of the Sawgrass Country Club and Jane Norton of the Serenata Beach Club provided access for the Beach Cleanup teams through their properties. The project also was supported by Mrs. Kim Hollis, IB Coordinator and Mrs. Debra Tewey, pre-IB Biology Teacher.
The Beach Cleanup was deemed a great success by students, staff and parents. Plans have already begun for next year’s Beach Cleanup!