According to collective wisdom, we high school students spend the best time of our school days during the lunch break. We all desire a clean and comfortable environment for the lunchtime fun. However, recently, due to surging government budget cuts, we are seeing increasingly insufficient cleaning and care being devoted to our school cafeterias.
What do you do if your bedroom at home gets messy? You clean it. What if the place that gets messy is not your bedroom but a place where you eat at and have fun on every school day? Would you rather see it gets messier and suffer from the consequences than cleaning it? A rational and reasonable answer would be to take action to clean the place. Evidently, the solution to the problem of rising neglect in keeping our school cafeterias clean is straightforward: let’s clean our own school cafeterias. If we do so, we are bound to see a cleaner and healthier lunch environment at schools.
Cleaning our school cafeterias by ourselves will not only offer reliefs to pressing funding problems that plague today’s public high schools in America, but also advance the core values of education.
One of the main purposes of education is to shape students’ values to mentally prepare them for life beyond teenage years. Unfortunately, in most American high schools today, the curricula focus mainly on academic development and as a result, the crucial need for cultivating personal attributes is often neglected.
Students cleaning school cafeterias will fill in this gap in several definitive ways. First, if we are taught to have a duty to clean the facilities we use in public, we’ll develop a sense of responsibility for our own actions. On the other hand, if we are accustomed to the concept that someone else will clean up the mess we make, we’ll tend to develop a belief that we do not have to care about the negative effects of our actions in public. These two contrasting approaches will mold two different kinds of people. Do you want to be neighbors with people who regularly help clean the neighborhood or with people who believe neighborhood cleaning is none of their business? Do you prefer to work with someone who is willing and able to take responsibility for a task or with someone who expects you to take care of it? The answers are obvious. As a high school student, will you feel thankful that a school activity fosters the sense of responsibility in your mind so that you will become a well-trusted person? The intrinsic value of personal responsibility in this activity is significant and far-reaching.
In addition, working together to clean the school will present an excellent opportunity for us to learn and practice the value of cooperation. Cleaning school facilities as a group will require us to communicate, help, and coordinate with one another. Such a collective effort will help us develop skills in working with others and learn the concept of team spirit. This idea is of particular importance in today’s high schools where most students go home right after the last bell. Without the chance to interact with peers in a common task on a regular basis, it is impossible for us to grow the desire and acquire the skills to collaborate with others. As a high school student, will you feel appreciative that a school activity improves your interest and abilities in team work so that you become a well-liked person? The innate value of team work in this activity is significant and far-reaching.
Moreover, cleaning up our own surroundings will nurture our concept and belief in caring for the environment. The very fact that our school facilities need to be cleaned by our own hands demonstrates the importance of keeping our surroundings clean. Consequently, we will become naturally inclined to care for the environment. During the course of cleaning the school environment, we will also get the opportunity to learn and practice what is appropriate and inappropriate for appreciating the environment. As a high school student, will you feel gratified that a school activity creates environmental awareness in your mind so that you consciously become a good steward of the Earth? The inherent value of environmental awareness in this activity is significant and far-reaching.
Furthermore, cleaning up our own school cafeterias will help us develop a sense of appreciation for the work of others. Through vacuuming floors and mopping tables, we will become aware of the amount of labor involved in keeping a clean environment. Consequently, we will appreciate the work our parents have done in tidying up our homes and the efforts our neighbors have made in cleaning up our communities. When we appreciate the work others have done for us, we will become more respectful. Being respectful contributes to happiness, friendship, love, opportunities, success, and many other lifelong benefits; it stands to reason that being respectful will make us be respected. As a high school student, will you feel grateful that a school activity instills appreciation and respect in your mind so that you will become a well-respected person? The essential value of respect in this activity is significant and far-reaching.
School cleaning by students may be a new idea in the U.S., however, in some Asian countries, this practice has been in existence for years. In Japan, for example, all high schools require students to participate in school cleaning on school days. International studies have consistently shown that high school campuses in Japan are ranked as some of the cleanest in the world and that Japanese students perform among the best in the world in academics. The success of Japanese schools demonstrates that school cleaning by students is feasible and valuable. If we want our schools to succeed in today’s increasingly competitive global competition, we should consider and adopt this successful practice.
Given the above developmental, educational, and financial benefits, there is no reason not to promote and implement this activity. It is time for us to take care of our schools so that we can one day take good care of our families, our communities, and our country. For a healthier school environment, a richer educational experience, a brighter future, and a better self, let’s clean our school cafeterias!