Soldotna Montessori students gather lessons from trash


It’s difficult to imagine anything outweighing the 300 pounds of trash that students in Terri Carter’s fourth- through sixth-grade class at Soldotna Montessori Charter School picked up at Johnson Lake Campground in Kasilof on the school’s annual community cleanup day. But to hear the students tell it, a cleaner recreation area was just one of many benefits gathered that day.

“I think doing community service kind of drives us to try harder to help out in our community,” said Sara Faris, a sixth-grader.

Students engaged in several community service projects throughout the school year, including caroling at doctor’s offices and Heritage Place, sending books to children in Africa, sending clothes to Bethel and participating in stream water-quality monitoring. 

“Being with friends, helping the environment together, feels great and is great,” said Jaela Hubbard, a fifth-grader.

“We love helping our community and places farther around the world. When we pick up garbage we also have a lot of fun while doing it. We do it to try to help our community to get healthier and more fun to be in,” said Hanna Noyes, a fifth-grader.

“All of us could honestly say we did a good job. I am very glad that we went to the campground and cleaned up. I know it was not the one thing I wanted to that day but I am so very glad that we did. It wasn’t just us kids; I mean, this wouldn’t even have happened if it weren’t for our chaperones. All of them driving us to the lake and back, picking up garbage, they were so much help,” said Jon Standerfer, a sixth-grader.

Carter said that the Johnson Lake cleanup came about as many decisions in the class do — through consensus, generated through student interest or concern.

“In the midst of helping students to become literate in all academic and content areas, I believe it’s critical to maintain a long-term perspective,” Carter said. “Events like this are simple in many ways, but equip and prepare students to be involved, active students. They realize that their contribution does make a difference and they begin to understand that, together, we can accomplish great things.”