by Briana Ferreira, Class of 2016, Warwick Veterans Memorial High School and Michael Sollitto, Teacher, Warwick Veterans Memorial High School
As an incoming senior at Warwick Veterans Memorial High School, it was time for me to start thinking about a topic for my senior project. Knowing the career path I want to take after high school – to become a marine veterinarian – a beach cleanup was the perfect choice.
Marine biology has always been an interest of mine. I've been surrounded by water my whole life. When you’re born and raised in the Ocean State, the beach was a common place to be. But it wasn't until a leadership event that I noticed how much trash is left on the beach. Being a part of the Leadership Academy at Warwick Vets, we do an annual beach clean up at the end of May. Seeing how many bags of trash we collected in the little time we were there was shocking. You don't realize how much trash there really is until you are the one picking it up. So I made the decision to become a beach captain and run my own beach clean up for my senior project.
Polluted oceans put marine life at risk. Did you know that more than 600 species of marine animals are impacted by ocean trash? Many become entangled or mistake pieces of trash as food, which leads to digestion problems and many times also death. We're polluting our oceans and putting our animals at risk. These horrors inspired me to get involved, and what better way to do that than to participate in the International Coastal cleanup? My senior project mentor Michael Sollitto and I will be leading a cleanup at Conimicut Point in Warwick on September 19 for the Rhode Island International Coastal Cleanup.
-Briana Ferreira, Student, Class of 2016, Warwick Veterans Memorial High School
I have coordinated many beach clean-ups over the years with Save the Bay. These beach clean-ups were community service projects for Leadership Academy at Warwick Veterans High School. Teaching the importance of community services and environmental responsibility are important lessons for my students. Working with Save the Bay has ALWAYS been a wonderful experience. The staff, and especially the volunteer coordinator, July Lewis, go above and beyond by providing resources and supplies to run these clean-ups.
Like Briana, I grew up in Warwick, and its beaches and coast have been a large part of my life. It truly upsets me when I see trash littered on these beaches. When Briana asked me to be her mentor for her senior project, I didn’t think twice. It has been a pleasure working with Briana as co-beach captains for the International Beach clean-up. It is refreshing to see a teenager with drive and passion. For this project, I am her assistant, she is running the show! I am positive that her hard efforts will pay off and we will have a very successful event.-Michael Sollitto, Teacher, Warwick Veterans Memorial High Sch