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Tag: Golden Garbage Award

Diana Smith and Trevor Clinton with Golden Garbage award at St. Michael's School in Pincher Creek.

Golden Garbage reward inspires tidy spaces

In a world where cleanliness is paramount, instilling the value of tidiness and respect for one’s surroundings in children is more crucial than ever. Yet, amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life, this fundamental lesson often falls by the wayside.

Recognizing the pressing need for awareness among children, one school in Pincher Creek is leading the charge in fostering a culture of cleanliness, thanks to its caretaker, Trevor Clinton.

When Clinton was hired by St. Michael’s School in 2017, he quickly noticed a concerning trend. Despite the newly renovated and modernized facilities, students were disrespecting areas of the school, with little regard for cleanliness or the learning environment. Garbage littered the floors, chairs were left haphazardly and personal items were strewn about.

Amidst this, one class stood out for its cleanliness. Seeking guidance, Clinton approached Manon Thauvette, the teacher of that class. She shared her simple yet effective strategy: allocating 10 minutes at the end of the day to pick up chairs and 10 things that can go into the garbage.

Following Thauvette’s lead, Clinton rewarded this class with a box of 50 Timbits and told them to tell others what they did to earn the reward.

“I gave the Timbits to that class and told them they got them because their room was able to be cleaned quickly and properly. I could see that they cared about their learning space and their learners. I also told them to tell everybody why they got those Timbits,” Clinton says.


Aerial view of the Cowley Lions Campground on the Castle River in southwestern Alberta


Moving forward, he started picking a class weekly that was doing a good job of picking up their stuff, and what began as a humble endeavour soon blossomed into a schoolwide trend.

With the support of principal Karen Schmidt (the school’s associate principal at the time) and funding from the school, Clinton introduced the Golden Garbage Can reward program. Each week, a class demonstrating exceptional cleanliness and respect for their learning space would receive a reward, initially a box of Timbits.

The impact was immediate and profound. Students eagerly participated in keeping their classrooms tidy, motivated by the prospect of recognition and reward. As word spread throughout the school, a culture of responsibility and pride began to take root.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic presented unforeseen challenges. When schools reopened, neither the school nor Clinton had enough budget to reward students on a weekly basis. Undeterred, Clinton expanded his efforts beyond the school walls, garnering attention and support from parents, local organizations and businesses.

Donations sustained and expanded the program. What began as a simple gesture of appreciation evolved into a movement, uniting the school and its community in a shared commitment to cleanliness and respect.


Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.


Trevor Clinton and Barb Schram of Cowley Lions Club

Barb Schram of the Cowley Lions Club presents a cheque to Trevor Clinton to support the Golden Garbage Can program.  Trevor is grateful for this support and for other donations from the Knights of Columbus, Friends’ of St. Michael’s, Pincher Creek Co-op, The Hut and Epicure.

Photo courtesy of St. Michael’s School

Six years later, the program has expanded to reward three winning classes per week — one each from elementary, junior high and high school — but it is not limited to other learning spaces.

“It has become very hard to reward just one class because of the competitiveness throughout the school. So after getting some funding from the Knights of Columbus and going to some other businesses and clubs in town, I chose to step the program up this year,” Clinton shares.

“Now, we reward elementary classes with the Golden Garbage Can, the junior high with the Golden Dustpan and the high school with the Golden Broom rewards.”

Clinton says parents have praised the initiative for instilling valuable life skills in their children and fostering a sense of community.

Looking ahead, Clinton envisions further growth and impact for the program. Expansion to include additional classes and recognition for individual efforts demonstrates his unwavering dedication to creating a positive learning environment.

Clinton recognizes the long-term implications for the school and its community beyond the immediate benefits of cleanliness and organization.