Campus Clean-Up Becomes A Daily Task For Dedicated Sophomore

Zora Hollie, Reporter

Empty vending-machine chip bags, brown school lunch trays, crunched-up plastic water bottles- we’ve all seen the trash littered around Venice. We’ve also all probably seen sophomore Zack Ortiz, sporting an orange vest and trash picker, collecting garbage around school during nutrition and lunch. 

It started at the end of last semester, when Ortiz would spend time outside during his 6th period class. With some spare time and a drive to be more involved around campus, Ortiz began collecting litter. 

“I had nothing to do so I would just pick up trash. And then I kind of liked doing it,” Ortiz says. 

Campus aid Taylor Thomas, seeing Ortiz’s desire to help around campus, aided him in making the trash-collecting a somewhat official job.

“I helped him with an email he wrote to the principal. And then from there the principal gave him a vest and a trash picker,” says Thomas. 

Now, Ortiz receives community service hours for his work, and has already surpassed the forty he’ll need to graduate. In addition to picking up trash, Ortiz also asks students if they have any trash to give, allowing them to skip a short trip to the garbage can.

“You know the giant bags of trash? I fill one of those up during lunch,” Ortiz says. 

Ortiz sees the environmental impact of litter, how birds will try to eat it or it blows into the street. Surprisingly though, environmental concerns aren’t Ortiz’s chief motivation.

“I’m just doing it cause it’s a nice thing to do,” says Ortiz. 

Cynthia Headrick, principal of Venice, admires Ortiz’s enterprise. 

“He has the courage and the boldness to go out there and do it. He’s not worried about what people think of him because he’s got a mission to maintain the campus,” says Headrick. 

Although lead campus aid, Ms. Jones, also thinks what Ortiz is doing is awesome, she thinks students should be more accountable about their own trash.

“I think it’s a responsibility for each student to pick up their trash. It’s not the responsibility of the maintenance people to pick up trash behind you.” 

Principal Headrick also thinks students could do more to help out the buildings and grounds workers. If there was less trash, they would be freed up to do other things around campus. 

“Some of the people that work here spend a lot of time picking up trash,” says Headrick. 

She wishes other students would take similar initiatives to Ortiz, possibly creating a club dedicated to beautifying the campus. 

“I think the more people that would get involved the better our campus would look,” says Headrick. 

Coincidentally, the school’s Heal the Bay club is planning to start collecting trash around school. They already have familiarity with the act- they host weekly cleanups at Venice Beach- so, sponsor Ethan Krizman didn’t think it was a far leap to start helping out around campus. 

“It fits in with the goals of Heal the Bay, environmental activism and community service,” says Krizman. 

Krizman feels passionately about the issue of trash on campus. Similarly to Headrick, he feels that more students should step up to clean trash, instead of relying on people like Ortiz to clean it up for them. 

“An issue that affects the whole community takes the whole community to solve,” says Krizman.