Great Oaks Charter school had a three-hour community clean-up in Wilmington Friday morning.

Great Oaks students forego day off to clean up community 

Jarek RutzCulture, Headlines

Great Oaks Charter school had a three-hour community clean-up in Wilmington Friday morning.

Great Oaks Charter school had a three-hour community clean-up in Wilmington Friday morning.

The streets of Wilmington are cleaner this weekend thanks to Great Oaks Charter School

“We decided today to help out the community a little bit by picking up the trash,” said Amir Phillips, a sophomore at the charter, who’s spending the Friday of his Spring Break giving back.

In the school’s first city cleanup, a few dozen showed up to help out – mainly those in the Great Oaks community, but some residents of Wilmington with no ties to the school also picked up a trash bag to collect litter as they walked around the city on a sunny Friday morning.

Great Oaks has a Student Activities Committee which organized the event. That group is designed to create positive activities for students and to showcase the positive aspects of the school community.

“We wanted to ensure that you know people see Great Oaks in a positive light as we are transitioning from previous things that people think about the school,” said Principal Tamara Price. She has played an integral part in leading the school successfully through a formal state review that resulted in more than a dozen conditions the school had to meet, notably meeting minimum student enrollment requirements. 

The charter is inside of the Community Education Building, which also houses a couple other schools as well as several social service organizations.

As city residents walked past the tables with free food and trash bags, several asked Price about the school and were impressed with the offerings of the Community Education Building. 

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Among other services, the building provides free resources like food to those in need, as well as having several specialists in categories like housing, career, crisis support, family advocacy and more.

“We want to ensure that the community sees the greatness of our students and things that’s going on within the school,” Price said. 

Friday’s three-hour cleanup gave students the opportunity to experience volunteer work and clean up the city they live in and take pride in, she said. 

“What we’re doing is making a better ecosystem, you know, the plants and the trees benefit and we need there for oxygen and to survive,” Phillips said, “so it is best for all of us to help out and make the world a better place.”

The cleanup hit a little deeper to Jaron Johnson, a paraprofessional and coach at Great Oaks. 

“It does mean a little something more to me because I’m from this community,” he said. “Literally this block where we’re standing at, my whole life is from Shearman Street to Ninth Street, and I’m 43 years old, this has been my whole life.”

It means a lot, he said, to have everybody come out and give back a little bit of their time over spring break to help beautify the community.

He also said it’s a great preview of April 20, when the entire city of Wilmington will have a community clean-up day from 9 a.m. to noon.

Find more information about that here.

All the students participating in the clean-up Friday will receive service letters, which will be helpful for their future endeavors. 

“We have many students participating and it’s just changing their mindset, like this is service,” Price said. “You’re taking your time to come out and do something that you don’t have to do to make our community cleaner.”

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