CRIEFF High School pupils were out in force last week picking litter in the Duchlage Court area of the town.
The group of S1, S2 and S6 pupils were all enthusiastic volunteers when the school decided to send out a ‘response team’ to help clean up the area, following Duchlage Court resident Mrs Margaret Ralph’s appeal for action to be taken to halt the tide of rubbish swamping the pathway behind the back gardens of homes.
Armed with litter pickers and black bags the youngsters took time out from their busy afternoon timetable to clear out some of the debris collected in the area.
Megan Sinclair, one of the first years who took part, said: "Mrs Ralph was right. The litter is appalling. But I have really enjoyed doing something to help and will be back to do it again.”
A delighted Mrs Ralph and her neighbour Mrs Violet Smith commented: “We are very grateful for the cooperation from the staff of the school and the children who did a good job of picking up the litter.”
Head teacher, Mrs Christine Ross, added: "It is important to underline that this was not a one-off event. We are determined to really make a difference in helping address the littering problem and we are looking to organise a regular clean-up.
"We are fully aware that tourism is the lifeblood of our town and it is important that our young people recognise their part in promoting their local area and enhancing its reputation."
The litter pick is the first phase of a large scale citizenship project which the school are working on, with local resident Jane Morrison and MP Gordon Banks, to raise awareness amongst young people of their role and responsibilities as citizens and encouraging pupils to be more pro-active in their local community.
Explaining her role in the project Jane said: "I was in King Street one day in January and saw a youngster throw litter down right in front of me. My suggestion that the paper was picked up was met by a less than enthusiastic response and I then said to myself, as no doubt everyone else in this situation has, "someone should do some thing about this" and carried on.
“It then struck me that was what everyone else did and we were all waiting for that mythical "someone" to do something! I then did some serious thinking and watched carefully what was happening in the community.
“There were a number of things that struck me. Mainly, most people are putting the youngsters under the banner of "school kids" as if the school is at fault, when in actual fact they are "our kids" who go to the local school, which is responsible for their education not their upbringing.
“When you look at it in that light you realise that both the community and the school have a role to play. Not only that but the school is in the wonderful position of being a centre of influence with the youngsters.
“I approached Crieff High School at the end of January and the response was so positive and the timing was in line with some ideas that the school was putting in place that we all felt that, together, we had something we could take forward.
“In addition to the school's initiatives, we are in the process of setting up a group which will be eligible for funding to promote and carry out community activities.
“It is intended that this group will liaise with other voluntary groups and organisations, local business, individuals and the school to identify, organise and where appropriate fund, community activities which will involve the youngsters, hopefully combining education with a sense of achievement and fun!
“We do however need volunteers, from all areas of the community, who would like to be involved with this project and would ask that anyone who is interested to contact the school.”
Gordon Banks MP, added: ““I recently had a meeting with Crieff High School head teacher Mrs Christine Ross and Jane Morrison when we discussed the school’s plans to develop the citizenship programme and I was really heartened to hear that part of this has already been put into action. I have committed my support to the school in taking forward this programme which will benefit the children and the community at large.”
Mrs Petrie, Principal Teacher of RME, who is coordinating the new citizenship project, has also asked local residents and businesses to contact the school to highlight those areas where involvement from the school would be particularly helpful, not only in clearing litter but in activities which would enhance the appearance of the town.
Readers can contact the school on (01764) 653383 or on email@example.com