Dozens of Student Volunteers Help Green Up Pittsburgh Carrick High School
On November 8th, a passionate group of Pittsburgh Carrick High School students teamed up with staff from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) to beautify their school landscape with new greenery. The group of volunteers, made up of about 25 students and 3 supervising teachers, spent the school day planting trees and shrubs and spreading layers of fresh mulch around the newly installed plants.
Plants and technical assistance were provided by Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) through the School Grounds Greening Project, a partnership of WPC, The Grable Foundation and Pittsburgh Public Schools.
The project aims to add low-maintenance, sustainable greenery to each school in the PPS district by 2011, while actively involving the school community in an effort to provide greener and healthier landscapes in which the students can learn, play, and interact.
After a brief planting demonstration, students split up into smaller groups to tackle the day’s workload. At the front of the school, one group worked to fill in existing plant beds with holly bushes and rhododendrons. Around the side and back of the school, other students learned how to plant larger shrubs and trees. They faced the challenge of tough, rocky soil with determination, digging away with shovels and mattocks to make holes for the plants. Diane Rutten, culinary arts teacher and advisor of the leadership group “The Future is Mine (TFIM)” was “quite impressed with their tenacity as the day progressed.” “They reached rock and instead of quitting, they dug harder.” Each of the groups worked together to carry buckets and cart wheelbarrows full of mulch to rake around the plantings.
The students, representing a diverse range of organizations including National Honors Society, culinary arts classes, and TFIM, achieved outstanding results together. By the end of the school day, students and staff added over 14 trees and 30 shrubs around their school’s perimeter. Yet their “greening” efforts won’t stop here. Ms. Rutten and her students plan to build a raised-bed garden behind her culinary arts classroom as early as this spring. They hope to use the garden to grow fresh herbs and vegetables that both the school and community members can enjoy.
By seeing the planting project through from beginning to end, the students were able to witness the positive results of their hard work directly. Allen Lee, one of the Carrick student volunteers, got to experience these benefits first hand: “[We did] serious work for a good deed,” Allen said. “I felt like planting a tree was planting a new life and I felt good to be a part of that.”