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Student group picks up more than 24,000 cigarette butts in downtown Rochester

The count is in — John Adams Middle School students who collected cigarette butts in downtown Rochester last week tallied 24,811 of them.

At a nickel per butt, that means the Rochester Downtown Alliance, with help from Mayor Ardell Brede, will donate $1,240.55 to the school science lab, which includes a collection of animals and a garden.

"We're trying to make some of our science experiments come alive," said teacher Deb Las, who helped organize the group, the Butt Kickers.

The cleanup "was really a nice way for kids to work with adults for a common cause for the betterment of our community," Las said. "The kids had a blast, and they really felt good about themselves. Good came of it."

Not to mention the fact, Las said, that nearly 25,000 cigarette butts, arranged on a classroom table, have a powerful effect on students.


"Every kids that comes in the room says 'Oh! What's that smell?'" Las said. "'Why would anybody want to smoke?'"

The group met its goal of picking up 1,000 butts per involved student, despite the fact that some locations were missed in the collection, Las said.

The students have discussed ways to expand their project, for instance, getting pedestrian commuters to pick up butts on their way to and from work, Las said.

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