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Rio Vista Kids keep our world beautiful

Posted: March 7, 2009 12:29 a.m.
Updated: March 7, 2009 12:00 p.m.

A group of Rio Vista Elementary third-graders carry an old tractor tire from the wash.

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Students from Rio Vista Elementary School rolled up their sleeves Friday to wipe out graffiti at the school during their annual Clean-Up Day.

"Sometimes I make a mess, but today I'm cleaning one up," sixth-grader Wyatt Salkeld said as he rolled fresh paint over scattered graffiti near the school.

About 1,000 first- through sixth-grade students participated in Friday's clean-up at the Canyon Country school.

"We want to teach kids about the importance of environmental health, and hope that what they learn here will carry on through the rest of their lives," Principal Isa DeArmas said. "I'm extremely proud of our students. They all share an enthusiasm to help and they are making great models."

DeArmas and staff members pitched in by picking up trash on the campus.

Teachers and the Santa Clarita's Graffiti Task Force led groups of students in the morning trash clean-up, in its third year, near the wash behind the school.

"I was helping to pick up trash out there," Joey Aver, 11, said as he pointed to the wash behind the school. "It felt so good because I know that the trash will destroy the ecosystem that is there.

"Animals will die and their natural habitat will be ruined."

Conor Bloom, 10, decided to write letters to both Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Barack Obama to let them know about what his school was doing to create a healthy environment.

"They haven't written back yet," Bloom said. "But I know it's important to them, because it should be important to us all."

Bloom hopes to continue his active role in promoting interest and awareness in environmental issues when he becomes president someday.

Linda Valdes, Rio Vista's Caring School community coordinator, was thrilled by the students' efforts.

"I watch these kids beam when they see they've done something to help," Valdes said. "It makes them feel good to know they've made a difference in their community and they feel inspired and connected."

Since last year's Clean-Up Day, graffiti eventually reappeared on a wall near the wash after Rio Vista students painted over it. The continued vandalism didn't discourage some students.

"I just thought, ‘I will get back there and do it again,'" Isaac Wagonner, 11, said while painting over graffiti. "We are all working together to give it all we've got, which needs to be done to keep our world beautiful."

On April 3, Rio Vista will hold Environmental Awareness Day, which will bring members of the state Assembly and Congress to speak with the children.

"The whole day, students will be involved in activities about helping the environment and building a strong sense of self," Valdes said.

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