Arbor Day and Earth Day combined on Friday, April 26 when the North Bergen High School environmental club planted five trees given by the class of 2012 as a gift to their school. Adding some color and taste to the campus will be a pear, plum, cherry, dogwood and birch tree. Native habitat restoration specialist John Haviland, who volunteered his services on an urban eco-stewardship, believes the environmental club is a great experience for city kids.
“Kids suffer from something called nature deficit disorder,” said Haviland, quoting a book by Richard Louv called “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.”
He added, “Kids in urban areas tend to have it.”
Mayor Nicholas Sacco attended the tree planting with Parks and Public Property Commissioner Hugo Cabrera.
“I think it’s wonderful that the environmental club takes their responsibility very seriously,” said Sacco. “It’s a healthy and a very good sign for the future.”
Also on hand were the 2012 senior class moderator Jared Keshishian along with co-moderators of the environmental club, Dana Lau and Jennifer Checchio.
“It’s their school grounds, it is what they see every single day, and they are beautifying their environment and their community,” said Lau.
The trees chosen are native to New Jersey. To the students they are the gift that keeps on giving.
“Years from now we can come back and see how other generations are taking care of the trees.” – Milagros Oviedo
According to Patel, the trees signify life, which is what former Senior Class President Mabel Oviedo said in her graduation speech.
“The trees we wish to donate represent the lives of the class of 2012,” she said. “The branches of these trees represent the many paths our lives will take. The roots of these trees signify that no matter what we accomplish in life, it all began in North Bergen. Our roots lie with the school that has helped shape and foster our development.”
Milagros Oviedo said she and her sister Mabel will return to their alma mater in the future to watch the progress that the trees have made. “Years from now we can come back and see how other generations are taking care of the trees,” said Milagros.
Carlos Perez, who is also the environmental club president along with Patel, said he believes the trees will improve the campus as well as the air quality.
To Haviland, planting trees is an eco-enhancement activity that improves the natural value of the school while beautifying its appearance. The trees also provide clean air by giving off oxygen.
Club members emphasized the importance of valuing the environment.
“We’re here to make sure we can all enjoy the environment,” said Patel. “Planting these trees helps. Earth is where we live and we want to keep it clean.”
“This is our habitat, and if we destroy it we’re going to be living among dust and debris,” said senior Evelyn Gonzalez.
For Milagros Oviedo, the tree planting was right up her alley, since she wants to pursue a career in landscaping.
“I love nature,” she said.
At full maturity, the cherry tree will be 30 feet, with the plum tree growing up to 10 to 20 feet and the pear tree will range from 25 to 35 feet. The taller trees will be the birch from 30 to 40 feet along with the dogwood that will vary from 15 to 40 feet.
Gonzalez also made Earth cupcakes for the moderators as they helped students plant trees.
Campus clean up
The environmental club did not stop at just tree planting but also cleaned up the campus, separating garbage as well as recyclable materials. Campus clean up is normally done on Earth Day but this year it was decided to combine it with Arbor Day.
“We can make sure that nothing harms the environment or animals,” said Patel.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org