West High teacher Lauren Zent was clear in her directions to her students.
“I don’t want anyone missing and find out you’re at home frantically playing with your Nintendo,” Zent said while handing a student a garbage bag outside the gym.
“Does anybody still play with Nintendo?” one students said to another.
After a few laughs, the group of 20 students each grabbed a bag and a pair of gloves to pick up trash on the streets of Billings.
It’s a project for Key Club, an organization dedicated to community service projects. The 88 students involved in the club must complete 20 projects over the course of the year.
Each project or activity counts as one point toward their goal.
“We didn’t have many projects in October and we’ve done a lot of fundraising to give money back to the community,” Zent said. “But we wanted to do some actual service project.”
Zent couldn’t get much more hands-on than having her students pick up garbage.
Sophomore Madi Miller and three other girls were assigned the school parking lot and Rimrock Mall.
“A lot of people are lazy and don’t throw their trash away, so we have to,” Miller said, picking up a discarded chip bag. “You get to miss school, so that’s a plus.”
The girls filled their bags with candy wrappers, straws and fast food bags.
The turnout this year far exceeded last year’s attempt. Zent said only about seven people showed last fall and again in the spring.
“Now we have tons of volunteers that want to help,” Zent said.
The 20 students were split up into six teams tackling six areas. Those who could drive were sent to further areas, like Grand Avenue and 32nd Street West and others to Stewart Park to clean up the bike path.
The teams spent two hours cleaning and returned with bags full of trash to toss in the school’s Dumpster.
“It’s points towards Key Club, and it’s fun,” said sophomore Rachel Temme.
Contact Chelsea Krotzer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 657-1392.