StreetSquash Celebrates Earth Day

Edgardo and I took a group of high-schoolers to Seton Park in the Bronx on Saturday for Earth Day. We met bright and early, taking the subway – followed by a mile-long walk including over 200 uphill stairs – to reach our destination. The staff from the NYC Parks Stewardship Program gave us a quick orientation before we got started. Our role was to rid one section of the woodland of an aggressive invasive species, the Japanese knotweed; this weed had grown to over four feet tall in just a week, so stopping its progress was important to restoring the area to allow the native trees to grow. The Parks staff member made our task look easy as he demonstrated digging out the knobby root of this plant in two moves with a shovel – it actually proved to be much harder than it looked! We all put our jackets to the side, slipped on gloves, and grabbed a shovel, a hoe or some loppers to get to work clearing our section. Some students started clipping away the waist-high dead plants so that others could get at digging out the roots. Though it was hard work, students had fun competing to dig up the biggest roots – a great strategy for hopefully getting rid of this invasive species. We wrapped up after about 3 hours of hard work and got some lunch and Parks water bottles before heading back to Harlem. It was a fun day despite the rain! Ryan’s mom, Ren P’19 & ’21, and Justin’s dad, Sammie P’17, helped chaperone – thank you both for your participation and dedication!

On Sunday, we took 17 students and 2 Young Leadership Committee (YLC) volunteers to Fort Tryon Park in the Bronx. We split up into two groups: some of us cleaned up trash, and some of us raked leaves and spread mulch to keep a big tree healthy. We were lucky enough to get to use the wheelbarrow to carry all of the mulch. It was a beautiful sunny day and we had a few breaks every now and then to dance in the sunshine. We had a great mix of 9th through 12th graders and everybody got along great! We ended up finishing up early because everybody worked SO hard and enjoyed some pizza in Washington heights as a treat 🙂 Special thanks to Alex and Chandler for joining us for the beautiful day of service! Go team ?

-Cici, Senior Director of College Success, and Clare, Academic Director, Teams 2 & 3