Nearly 100 teens clean up city

On Saturday, Oct., 15, nearly 100 Vermillion High School students met at the armory to clean-up the town. This was the Second Annual Vermillion City-Wide Clean-Up, a completely student organized and led event. The idea was the brainstorm of then senior, Sarah Szymonski.

Pictured are Heidi Kronaizl, Natalie Williams, Mikaela French and Megan Olson. (Photo by Beth Szymonski)

"I first decided to organize Vermillion City-Wide Clean-Up because I noticed a lot of trash around Vermillion and thought someone should pick it up," she said. Knowing she couldn't do it alone, she enlisted the help of her peers. The project was continued this year by her younger sister, Beth Szymonski, Mackenzie Huber, Brooke Schwasinger, Sarah Hanson, and William Card. Participants received a t-shirt, lunch, and extra credit from most of their teachers for helping out.

The planning committee has been hard at work for the past months. They had to solicit local businesses for money, supplies, and food. They also had to sign up students, design the t-shirt, ask teachers for extra credit, designate routes for students, plan the lunch, and set up accommodations for the armory and landfill.

"The local businesses really helped out! We could have never done it without their support," said Huber. The VHS Booster Club, The Road House, Cherry Street Grille, Jones', Hy-Vee, the Szymonski family, Vermillion Chamber of Commerce, First Bank and Trust, Hansen Funeral Home, Vermillion Beauty Shop, Davis Pharmacy, Rasmussen Motors, Campus Cuts, Vermillion Landfill, MidAmerican Energy, Vermillion Parks and Rec, Dominoes, Whoopti Doo Hair Salon, and University Cleaners and Formal Wear were the contributors.

"It was a huge, overwhelming task at first, but we broke it down and pulled it off. Next year will go more smoothly now that we have experience," Schwasinger said.

On the day of the clean-up, student-volunteers came to the armory at 9 a.m. and departed on their routes shortly after. They covered almost 15 total miles of city streets and collected 350 pounds of trash. They met back at the armory after to enjoy hot chocolate and lunch.

"I am really proud of all our peers who came and helped!" said Beth Szymonski. "It's great to show the community that teenagers can volunteer and make a difference."

Goals for next year include more participants, more trash, and to try to recycle as much as possible. "We plan to keep this going as long as we can," said Huber. "We'll just keep passing it down to younger students hopefully."

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