Last updated: February 16. 2013 5:27AM - 624 Views

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WILKES-BARRE -- Through a massive clean-up event, organizers with Commonwealth Connections Academy, a public cyber school, did their part to connect environmental education with technology Wednesday at Wilkes-Barre's Huber Park.


With the help of CCA community coordinators, the school planned the event in accordance with The Great American Cleanup of PA -- a statewide event that encourages the public to beautify their communities.


Since its inception in 2004, more than 1.2 million volunteers have removed more than 61 million pounds of litter and waste.


Heather Cherasaro said events like these are the reason she became a community coordinator for the CCA.


A tuition-free Pennsylvania cyber school, the CCA features roughly 60 community coordinators working throughout the state.


Each coordinator plans one event each month.


"We put an emphasis on community, not just community service," Cherasaro said. "But we also just try getting kids together."


Cherasaro said Wednesday's turnout was a bit more than she expected.


"I chose a small park because I had no idea so many people would show up," she said.


In addition to students, many parents and siblings were also ready to lend a helping hand.


Because it's an online school, CCA's parents play an essential role in ensuring students' successes.


"Families are very important," Cherasaro said. "We get a lot of brothers and sisters that show up to events, too."


A total of about 45 attendees were divided into two groups.


While one group learned about the decomposition process of recyclables, another group watched educational videos about conservation on a flat-screen television outside of CCA's 38-foot mobile classroom.


Traveling statewide, the massive CCA bus features satellite Internet capability, wireless Internet access, computers, interactive smartboards, microscopes and all the equipment needed to conduct complete science labs, reading lessons and many other classroom activities.


The mobile classroom acts as a unique accessory to hands-on educational field trips.


Kelly Sussman is an eighth-grade science teacher at CCA and knows the value of learning hands-on.


"We make it educational, but we also have our kids do a good thing, and maybe even get some exercise while doing it," Sussman said.


After learning about the different types of litter, students walked the perimeter of the park picking up bottles, wrappers and other debris.


Through Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, registered events can get free cleanup supplies such as bags, gloves and vests donated by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.


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