STUDENTS who went the extra mile to regenerate their school’s surroundings have been awarded for their efforts.
The Year 10 student council at Winterhill School in Kimberworth came together to find a project they could get stuck into and have now been recognised for their outstanding contribution to the community.
The Old Engine Pond in front of the school was brought to their attention after concerns from nearby residents who highlighted how it had become extremely polluted, overgrown and hazardous to wildlife.
The school council enlisted the backing of Rotherham Borough Council’s Green Spaces department and pupils donned waders and wellingtons to begin the clear-up.
Around 35 students gave up their Saturday over two consecutive weekends to tackle the problem area.
Simon Jeffery, behaviour and learning leader at Winterhill, said the clean-up was fantastic and residents had also joined the team.
“People from the houses that look onto the pond were sending us chocolates,” said Mr Jeffery.
The area had proved much harder to clean up than first envisaged, said Mr Jeffery, due to overgrown pond weeds that were tough to pull out.
The teenagers also raised £2,000 and secured sponsorship from transport and excavation firm TD Whites, who donated materials needed to build a new path at the site.
Mr Jeffery said he had been impressed by the students’ dedication, adding: “They have outdone themselves.
“They gave up their Saturdays in the freezing cold weather – there was snow on the ground the first Saturday and the week later it was throwing it down.”
The council’s Green Spaces team allowed the students to use a boat to get further into the pond and remove debris.
Mr Jeffery said: “The head of green spaces said it had made a massive impact.
“We are going to go back in February with diggers and get some junior pupils on board.”
Members of the Rotherham North Area Assembly awarded the students their outstanding community contribution award at the annual community awards on December 6.
Resident Gerald Robinson (56), who has been documenting on camera the transformation, said the pupils had done a “magnificent job”.
“They certainly deserved their award and they should all be so proud as I am of them,” he said.