Opala greets students out to make a difference

KEKAHA — “There were a lot of things out there, but those were things the students couldn’t touch,” said Beth Cuizon, the Waimea Canyon School band director.

Students from the Waimea Canyon School’s intermediate grades took time out Friday for their annual Make A Difference Day beach cleanup that started once school started.

Working in two sections, this year’s fifth- and sixth-graders had the task of working from a beach section just west of the Waimea Pier and ending at the Waimea River mouth at the Lucy Wright Park.

The seventh- and eighth-graders had the task of scouring the beach and vegetation from that same point, and ending at the Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor.

“The route to the Lucy Wright Park has a lot less trash, because more people live along that stretch,” one parent chaperone explained.

But, the stretch between the edge of Waimea and Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor gave up a lot of trash.

“You can make a car with what we found,” said Waimea Canyon School student Brandee Matsushima.

“We found a muffler, tires, and all kinds of stuff. There were a lot of beer bottles, and even a license plate.”

Among the items that students were not allowed to pick up due to health and safety concerns were disposable diapers, which some students picked up anyway.

As the band of seventh- and eighth-graders pulled into the Kikiaola destination, they lugged and tugged at their loads that included an assortment of wooden pallets, bags of litter, a couple of car seats, and even a suitcase.

Close to the Kikiaola destination, more automotive items were extracted from the vegetation line, as one student pulled out an automotive grille as well as a number of Styrofoam lunch containers and other ‘opala.

“There’s a golf ball,” one of the 10 teacher chaperones pointed out.

Sure enough, a yellow golf ball beckoned from within a thicket of grass, but that only served to indicate the location of a pile of discarded clothing.

“We even found (hypodermic) needles,” one student said. “But, we aren’t supposed to touch those, so we left them.”

Each year, Waimea Canyon School students are involved in this beach cleanup as part of their Make A Difference Day contribution, said Jayne Pereira, intermediate-grades student activities coordinator noted.

On some of their outings, the beach is relatively clean, but on Friday, there was a lot of trash.

Members of the Kikiaola Westside Boat Club were doing their morning sprucing up of the harbor, and were unaware of the students’ outing, but concurred that there used to be some drug-related activities in the area, but that has been cleaned up.

Paul Barba, one of the chaperones, explained that they’ll probably load every-thing in a truck to take to the Hanapepe refuse-transfer station later.

And, as the students left the harbor for the return leg back to school, one teacher noted, “We left the chairs for the fishermen. They even recline.”

On the return trip, the students scoured both sides of Kaumuali’i Highway for more trash.


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