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High school student to lead beach cleanup

Newburyport High School junior and member of the ACES Youth Corp, Nolan Smith, is putting together a beach cleanup. Smith’s efforts have been with the support of ACES.

Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash
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NEWBURYPORT — With spring here, temperatures are warming rapidly, which means residents and tourists alike will begin heading to the coast to enjoy scenic local beaches.

With the hope of having beachgoers forgo seeing trash littered about the sand, blown in from neighboring streets or homes or knocked out of garbage cans, Nolan Smith, a Newburyport High School junior, has been working on putting together a beach cleanup.

Smith’s efforts have been in collaboration with the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards, where he serves as an intern.

“I have been putting together the cleanup for a few weeks now,” Smith said.

The cleanup will take place April 7 from noon to 4 p.m. on the main turnpike at the north end of Plum Island. It is an early release day for Newburyport Public Schools, which gives students the perfect opportunity to participate in the cleanup.

Gloves and trash bags will be provided to participants and the cleanup can be used for students volunteer hours.

Smith said he first found out about ACES through a friend who had been working with the organization, Caleb Bradshaw, and set up a call with ACES President Art Currier. He had immediate interest in upcoming ACES projects, and his first project was putting together a poster with information on cleanups in Greater Newburyport.

“My first project was putting together a poster that had information on future cleanups across greater Newburyport. This eventually led me to create my own districtwide cleanup which I have been working on for the past few months,” he said.

Ron Martino, an ACES adviser and mentor, said Smith has been a great student leader.

“We are really proud of him and all the students involved in this and other efforts such as planting pollinator gardens locally last summer, and the research and creation of online and in field infographics for native trees at the reservoir in West Newbury.”

The cleanup falls in line with April being Earth Month.

Smith also came up with the idea to do a weigh-in of the trash at the end of the cleanup for each grade participating, with prize money awarded to the eighth grade or senior year graduating class. Smith also proposed the idea of hiring an artist to make a piece with the collected trash.

Earth Day, which was started in 1970 by late Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, began as a “teach in” at college campuses, Martino said. Nelson’s viewpoint was that change comes “generationally” as youths grow up and assume their places in the world and adopt the necessary changes, in this case, environmental changes. Earth Day is April 22.

“That set of events was so powerful that it lead to the Clean Water Act in 1972 and banning DDT, a pesticide that lead to fragile bird eggs,” Martino said. “As a result, the Merrimack (River) is no longer an industrial sewer and there are eagles successfully breeding here again.”

ACES was formed in 2018 to unite the efforts of people and organizations to address the climate and environmental crises in Greater Newburyport. ACES also writes a weekly column for The Daily News.

Martino said ACES has aimed its focus on youth awareness and programs, with students able to serve in the organization’s Youth Corps. “ACES is strongly focused on youth awareness and action and has facilitated numerous internships and the opportunities in climate related areas for students in local school systems. Our youth are our future.”

Smith said about 70 students have signed up to participate in the cleanup, mostly high school students.

“I am still pushing for more to join because I think it could be a significant event for all ages,” he said.

The north end of Plum Island is at 3 Northern Blvd. in Newbury. Those who wish to sign up for the cleanup can do so on the Newburyport High School website.

Ashlyn Giroux writes for The Daily News of Newburyport. Email her at: agiroux@

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Ashlyn Giroux

Ashlyn writes for the Daily News of Newburyport

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