Pick It Up Pali Is an Inspired Program

Litter not picked up by students but picked up by janitors for four days was saved, to make a point to students that they were responsible for cleaning up after themselves.




Almost everyone would agree that the environment could be better protected. However, tragically few students, the generation that will inherit this world, actually act in a way that reflects this belief. The trash left around the quad after nutrition and during lunch hour, required the custodial staff to pick it up and throw it away in trash cans. Most students agreed the litter “was disgusting.”

“How can we change this behavior?” Palisades High School teacher Nancy Fracchiolla asked her class. “How can we show these kids what their laziness looks like?”

Thus, Pick It Up Pali (PIUP) was born. The brainchild of Fracchiolla and her Studio Web class, PIUP is a grassroots movement designed to show students firsthand the effects of littering. How did they accomplish that?

For four days of school, starting on April 15, janitors secretly picked up trash not put in trash cans and, rather than dispose of it, stored it in a school building.

On April 19, all the trash picked up by this initiative was displayed on the school grounds with the sign “This is YOUR mess, Pali!”

On the Pali High campus this Earth Day, the slogan heard around the school grounds was “Pick It Up, Pali (PIUP)!”

Four students worked closely with Fracchiolla on the project: Layla Johnese (de facto “producer” of the project”), Maayan Friedenburg, Skyler Jacobs and Sunny Lehrhoff. The four each came up with their own initiatives to help push the PIUP movement.

Sophomore Jacobs helped put together the “garbage display.” Initially, there were worries about sanitary concerns from the Pali administration. The PIUP students explained to the Pali administration that it was “not any less sanitary than what it’s like when kids throw trash on the ground.”

Jacobs said. “You gotta let ‘em know.”

Johnese, a junior, helped produce a short film called “Role Reversal” a satiric film in which students were shown having to pick up after lazy, littering teachers. The film was shown to the whole school to resounding success.

Senior Friedenburg helped create new labels for school trash cans. Currently, due to a mix-up, many Pali garbage cans are labeled blue, which is typically recycling bins’ color. Friedenburg helped decorate a new batch of trash cans to replace these mislabeled ones, thus ensuring the right waste goes in the right place.

“We need to differentiate between recycling and trash cans,” Friedenburg emphasized. “Too much recyclable stuff is being thrown away and it’s just such a waste.”

Finally, Lehrhoff worked with Pali janitorial staff to interview them and create posters showing appreciation for them, which were then posted around the school. “We want to humanize them,” said Lehrhoff. “If the kids see them as people, maybe they’ll think twice about littering.”

Pick It Up, Pali has only just begun to put their plans into action. Whether or not they will be effective remains to be seen, but their bold actions will likely strike a nerve with the average Pali student.

“Our plan and hope is that people won’t take their littering behavior to college and beyond,” Johnese said. “It’s our campus, our school, our world.”

As part of the campaign, the custodial staff was highlighted. Helping students realize that “hired help” was not responsible for students not picking up after themselves.

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One Response to Pick It Up Pali Is an Inspired Program

  1. Cindy Kirven says:

    This is a great article, Chaz, and an even better initiative. Thanks go to Nancy Fracchiola and all her class – especially Layla, Maayan, Skyler and Sunny. The student littering problem is not just at Pali High, but also at the Palisades Village Green after school. Last Thursday, I was picking up trash from the fountain, under benches etc and a student said “Pick It Up, Pali.” At the time, I didn’t understand the reference. The first step in change is awareness. Thanks to all the students who are aware and help protect our environment by just picking it up.

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