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Students at GreenWood Charter School planting trees to offset energy consumption

By Ryan Aston - | Apr 1, 2024

Photo supplied, GreenWood Charter School

Students from Harrisville's GreenWood Charter School plant trees in an undated photo.

HARRISVILLE — Students from a local charter school have partnered with a nonprofit to plant tree saplings in an effort to offset the institution’s energy consumption from the past academic year.

GreenWood Charter School, located at 840 N. Highway 89 in Harrisville, set a goal to facilitate the planting of 100 tree saplings — both on-site and through sales to the general public — as part of a partnership with the nonprofit Tree-Plenish.

“The whole purpose is to have the kids calculate our carbon output. So, basically, we were looking at how much paper we use and how we can offset that by planting trees,” Diana Sciandra, GreenWood’s holistic health coach, told the Standard-Examiner.

According to Sciandra, the kids managed to blow past their initial goal; around 150 saplings have been sold. And there’s still an opportunity for the local community to participate.

Tree saplings can be purchased for peoples’ own use or for donation to the school through Wednesday for just $5. Saplings will be distributed on May 3, a day recognized by schools like GreenWood that teach an expeditionary learning curriculum as Better World Day.

In addition to giving out saplings, students are enlisting volunteers to help plant trees on GreenWood’s “Back Seven,” a 7-acre stretch of the school’s property used for outdoor learning and reconnecting with nature, on that day.

According to the Tree-Plenish website, the nonprofit worked with 143 schools to plant 22,496 trees across the country in 2023.

In this the first year of Tree-Plenish’s partnership with GreenWood, the organization worked with faculty to provide mentorship to students. However, the goal is to have students take greater ownership of the program moving forward.

“I kind of took the lead this year, but I want to hand it over and have it be 100% student-led next year,” Sciandra said. “And it’s not only to offset our consumption and to plant trees and to be environmental stewards, but it’s also to provide sixth, seventh and eighth graders an opportunity to work with the business side of it. … Just really amazing skills for the kids to have.”

Along with things like health, wellness and community connectedness, GreenWood has made engaging its student body on environmental issues a considerable part of its mission.

“We’re just committed to environmental stewardship and enhancing the area around us because our kids see the apartments going up,” Sciandra said. “I call myself the grim reaper (in class) sometimes. I have to tell them all these bad things about their food or about the environment. Sometimes they feel really sad that there’s not a lot that they can do.

“We’re constantly, as an administration, as a staff, trying to empower them to critically think and come up with solutions and give them solutions, so that they can feel empowered that it’s not just a losing game here in the environment, that they actually have some say and can take action.”

To purchase a sapling, go to https://tpevents.org/school/4058; available tree types include Colorado spruce, common hackberry and downy serviceberry. GreenWood also is seeking corporate sponsors for the May 3 event.


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