Students Clean Up Lake, Discover Sunken Treasure

bgreenlee/CC BY 2.0

Each week, students from St. Paul's Elementary School in Oakland, California, volunteer their time to pick up trash around their community. But on a recent outing to clean a polluted lake downtown, one group sixth-graders found something more than just a sense of civic pride.

While scouring the banks and trolling the depths of Oakland's Lake Merritt for plastic bottles, cigarette butts, and assorted garbage last week, the young volunteers stumbled upon no less than a sunken fortune. It was an 11-year-old girl, armed with a pond net, who first spotted two bags in the water; they were so heavy, she imagined they contained some discarded scrap metal. After a grown-up came to help pull the bags ashore, she and her classmates soon found a whole to new meaning to the saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure."

According to the Oakland Tribune, the bags contained antique jewelry, gold and silver chains, pocket and wrist watches, foreign coins, military medals, silver candlesticks and a bunch of rings strung together on a tattered shoelace.

Despite their excitement at the discovery, the class of sixth-graders suspected that the treasure could in fact be stolen goods, so they contacted the police and handed the items over. If the rightful owners cannot be found, however, there's a chance it will be returned to its discoverers, for keeps. Regardless, the elementary school's administrator Jane Adams says responsible citizenship is all in a days work.

"Our students have been cleaning the lake for 15 years. Our mission is service, and today we are happy to be of service to the Oakland Police Department."

In light of their remarkable find, it wouldn't be surprising if some of the students wanted to donate more of their time to collecting trash and treasure hunting at the lake -- after all, they're bound to clean up one way or another.

Tags: California | Pollution | Waste

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