TOWNSEND -- The small decisions we make each day can have a large impact on our community -- that's the lesson some Townsend elementary school students are being taught.
Fourth-grade students at Spaulding Memorial School spent a sunny morning last Wednesday planting trees by the school's playground to help reduce run-off into the Squannacook River.
With a grant from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation and assistance from Mary Marro of the Nashua River Watershed Association, as well as an anonymous donation of two trees, the students planted two red oak trees and two Japanese lilac trees behind the school.
The trees join two others that were donated by Unitil and planted by third grade students earlier this month.
"It's great for the kids to be involved in the community," said Principal Becky Janda. "There are so many people out there who care for them, and they get to learn that school extends beyond the border of the classroom."
Marro's connection with the students began in the classroom, which she visited twice this year for lessons on how watersheds work and how water quality affects the health of creatures living in the river. By planting the trees, she said, the students would help reduce the flow of oil, waste and other materials into the Squannacook River.
"We encourage greenways that are made up of trees, bushes and grass, which slows down the run-off and acts as a green filter," Marro said.
The NRWA works to educate students all over the watershed, which spans 32 towns, in part by applying for grants to host programs like this one. This GLCF grant also benefited students at Ashby Elementary School, according to Marro.
Students were responsible for digging the holes, helping to hoist the tree into them, filling them with dirt and watering the trees. Until the end of this school year, they will also be charged with watering them each day.
"It's a cool activity because we're learning how to work together in groups and take care of the environment in a fun way," said Kyra Genoter, 10.
Another student, 10-year-old Sophia Giannini, said the activity served two purposes.
"This is a really nice program for kids because we've never done it before and it's fun but educational too. We're learning a lot about nature and how to plant trees."
Debbie McMaster, the fourth grade teacher who organized the program, said the students benefited from the hands-on aspect of the lesson.
"Programs like this really help students connect with the environment and have an appreciation for the school grounds and the community. They also love handson activities and getting out of the classroom. I think it's very important for kids to learn in an outdoor environment as well as the classroom."
Nine-year-old Kyla Benjamin and her classmate, 10-year-old Taya Corn, both said they felt fortunate to be able to participate in the project.
"It's really cool that we get the privilege to do this. I haven't planted any trees in a while so it's cool to be able to do it with our classes," Benjamin said.
Corn added that the hour spent planting the trees taught a valuable lesson about teamwork.
"We can learn how to help the school and learn how to work together to plant trees by taking turns," Corn said.
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