DALLAS -- Bus brakes squealing, children shrieking, litter everywhere -- living near an elementary school can be rough. But Oakdale Heights Elementary in Dallas has taken steps to live in harmony with the community.
Students from Ann Hurd's third-grade class have circulated the hilly Maple Street neighborhood every month since January. They deliver the school's newsletter -- the Eagle Flyer -- and, on the way back uphill to school, pick up litter.
On this year's final trip, May 1, the students delivered handmade baskets filled with wild flowers along with the newsletters.
Kelsey Bridges enjoyed creating and decorating the baskets. "It's lots of fun to make May Day baskets," she said.
"We've walked down the hill once a month," Bridges noted. "It's real long and fun and exercising."
Holly Ray preferred picking up the trash. "We're helping the earth by taking the time out of our day to do the litter control project," Ray said, "and I like being around nature."
The only drawback? "We have to wear these gloves," Ray said, "and you get a whole swimming pool of sweat in there."
Student Ryan Willits hopes reducing litter will help neighborhood birds. "I like animals and I like to save them," he said. "Now birds won't die by getting things caught around their necks."
Teacher Ann Hurd sees the project as furthering a larger cause. "I wanted to do something to get them thinking beyond themselves and to get them helping other people," Hurd said.
"And they love to pick up trash."
In April the students wrote notes inviting neighbors to a luncheon at the school. Principal Vicki Boer commended the students' public relations efforts.
"This class has worked really hard on this project," Boer said. "This street gets all the traffic and buses coming through.
"The newsletter tells when projects are coming up so they'll know when they'll be swamped with cars," Boer said. "So this is really good P.R. for us and our new neighbors."
And so far, the neighborhood has offered only positive feedback. "Hello, Oakdale," a Maple street resident yelled, stopping her minivan to wave before she passed the litter patrol. "I appreciate it very much."