OGDEN -- Students from Ogden Preparatory Academy learned a little about their neighborhood one plant at a time Tuesday, as they spent the day pulling weeds and planting shrubs and trees along the Ogden River Parkway.
The entire student body walked from various campuses in downtown Ogden to the parkway between Washington Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue to get its hands dirty pulling unwanted weeds and bushes and planting trees and bushes that should thrive in the area.
It was the culmination of weeks of work by teachers at the school, preparing for the day of service with the city. Eighth-grade science teacher Teresa Hislop was one of the organizers.
"I strongly believe in service learning," Hislop said of the event. She knew the students would get immediate gratification from their work Tuesday, but she is also looking forward to long-term rewards.
"I want them to walk by and say to their children, 'I planted that tree,' " Hislop said.
Students spent the morning pulling and planting, took a lunch break and then cleaned up trash around the parkway. After the physical part of the project was complete, students took out pen and paper and wrote about their experiences.
They were treated to music performed by a group of students who have formed their own rock band. The Ogden Nature Center also did a presentation on eagles, because the school's mascot is an eagle.
Ashton Lewis, 12, felt really good about her experience. The seventh-grader pointed with pride to the chokecherry tree she had just planted.
She and her fellow students chose what they wanted to plant from a list of plants and trees that will thrive along the river.
"We are planting trees to help the environment and getting rid of trees that aren't good. It's been fun and messy," she said as she showed her soiled gloves.
Kasandra Kerr said that digging the weeds was the hardest part, but it may also have been the most fun.
Ashton and Kasandra had never done much planting before Tuesday. They said students from their class were taken out early and shown how to plant, and then they came back and showed the rest of the class the proper way to do it. Teachers and Ogden city workers were also offering hands-on help as the students worked.
It was Ashton's first time on the parkway, but she said it definitely won't be her last.
"I want to come and look and see how things are going," she said.
That is the plan for the students. Special education teacher Karole Pickett said students will frequent the area to make sure things are coming along well. Science classes come to the area often to draw water samples and look at plants.
The idea for the day blossomed when Hislop took students on some faraway field trips last year and discovered how well students who normally wouldn't associate with each other bonded and worked together.
"The principal wanted to do it for the whole school," Pickett said of the bonding opportunity. They wanted to do it at the beginning of the school year so students could continue the project through the year.
"It's been a cool way to bring the kids together," Pickett said.
The yearbook and photography classes also were writing stories and snapping photos to remember the day. Picket said: "We're trying to make it as cross-curricular as possible."