Eight Dundalk schools took home wins in the county public school system’s “Clean Green 15” litter challenge, winning out the grand prize as well as all three first-place prizes.

Charlesmont Elementary School won the grand prize of $3,000 in grant money to be used on environmental projects for winning the challenge, which encouraged students to log trash pick-ups.

Charlesmont’s “Green Team” of students who conducted trash pickups met throughout last school year and, after doing work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, came back to pick up more trash.

“They couldn’t be together at recess, they couldn’t go on the equipment,” Green Team lead Claudia Enders said. “So, the older kids especially, they would get a grabber, they would go around the campus and pick stuff up.”

But they didn’t stop while they were at home, still learning about the environment and picking up trash outside when they took breaks.

“They have different environmental topics that they cover, it might be picking up trash, it might be how to plant native Maryland plants around, it might be learning about plants in our schoolyard, or in our area,” Charlesmont Principal Dawn Hoffmaster said on Tuesday.

Claudia Enders said her husband, John Enders, who teaches horticulture at Dulaney High School and leads the Green Team there, came in as a guest speaker to speak about plants a few times as well.

“The kids met in the afternoon, and he taught them all about plants, what’s the best way to treat the plants,” Claudia Enders said.

Combined, all schools picked up a total of 57,862 pounds of trash in 3,391 bags during 406 cleanups, according to a press release from the school system.

“This is really about teaching, from a young age, about litter,” County Executive Johnny Olszewski (D) said at Charlesmont before recognizing the students for their efforts. Dundalk in particular, he added, has to worry about trash seeping into the water. “It’s about reminding not only our young people, but their families too, that litter makes its way into our beautiful waterways.”

Eight of the seventeen winners were schools in Dundalk and Edgemere. Patapsco High School won first prize out of all high schools, General John Stricker Middle School won first prize for middle schools and Sparrows Point Middle School won third, Grange Elementary School won first for elementary schools and Chesapeake Terrace Elementary School won third, Battle Monument School won the Special School Prize, and Sparrows Point High School won an honorable mention.