Havre de Grace Middle School Students Helping to Solve a City-Wide Problem




Repeated calls for clogged sinks, toilets backing up, sewer lines clogged…  What is going on?  Fats, oils, grease and “flushable” wipes are wreaking havoc on city pipes.  Rarely does a week go by at the City of Havre de Grace Public Works office without a call from residents asking for help with a sewer-related problem.  This costly problem is so easily preventable…it just takes a little education.  With that in mind, Public Works employee Laurie Dawson reached out to Havre de Grace Middle School science teacher and drama club advisor Laurie Starkey to help with getting the word out.

Mrs. Starkey immediately embraced the idea of having students develop a YouTube video to showcase the problem and the solution.  She put the idea out there to her students and they quickly stepped up and said they wanted to help.

The first step was to begin to learn about this city-wide problem.  Students did their homework by doing on-line research of problems caused by fats, oils, grease and wipes in the pipes.   This was followed by a Field Trip to the City of Havre de Grace Waste Water Treatment Plant.

Students explored the plant operations and saw first-hand evidence of the problems created when items like those mentioned above are put into household drains and toilets.  WWTP Assistant Superintendent Mick Zellman lead the discussion and tour where students were able to see all types of material caught in fine screens.

Following the tour, these middle school students began to define key points to include in their video and discussed ways to keep the viewers engaged.  In the words of one student, “Our video needs to include scenes around our town because we are proud of our City and we want to help keep the Bay clean.”

Next steps for Mrs. Starkey’s students include preparing the script and video production schedule.  City Hall will hold a premier showing at an upcoming Council meeting.  Stay tuned for the debut targeted for April.

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