Student Volunteers Brighten Up Pittsburgh Langley High School with Greenery
On November 1st, a group of 16 Langley High School students gathered outside to help “green” their school grounds. Under the supervision of English teacher Ms. Jennifer Wright and with guidance and technical assistance from Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) staff, the students successfully planted over 40 new shrubs and 8 trees outside the school’s entrance.
Langley was one of the 66 Pittsburgh Public Schools scheduled to receive new plantings through WPC’s School Grounds Greening Project. A partnership between WPC, The Grable Foundation, and the Pittsburgh Public Schools , the School Grounds Greening Project intends to add low-maintenance, sustainable greenery at each of the Pittsburgh Public Schools 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.
Students worked diligently all morning, digging holes for each plant and spreading buckets of mulch around the new plantings. Previously a bare stretch of grass, the rhododendron bed lining the outer front wall adds a row of flowering shrubbery intended to brighten up the school’s entrance. In the springtime, the shrubs will produce vibrant pink flowers, adding a splash of color to the school’s stone façade.
Yet this new greenery will do more than improve the visual appeal of Langley. School greening has been proven to provide a range of advantages including long-term social, psychological, and physical benefits for students who interact with the plant life. The smallest touch of color and growth can do wonders for a student’s psyche and attitude, and may even help reduce absenteeism and decrease bullying. The hands-on experience of planting is also valuable to students, allowing them to take pride in improving their school’s landscape. Senior student and volunteer Samantha Smith stated, “To me, planting all the trees and flowers in the front of the school was fun. I hope that my fellow workers learned that even a little hard work can be rewarding.” Samantha also added “I hope to do it again one day soon, because seeing how the front of the school will flourish makes my day all the better.”
Ms. Wright also expressed excitement about the planting project: “Service Learning projects are a great way for people to give back to their community. By weathering a chilly morning and digging in to do the work to make Langley more beautiful, our students showed pride in our school, in the Sheradan community, and in themselves. I couldn’t be prouder [of] those who participated in planting day!”