Students of South Middle School in the City of Newburgh celebrated ten new trees planted in front of their building as part of the ongoing efforts of the Greater Newburgh Parks Conservancy (GNPC) and Environmental Justice Fellowship (EJF). The celebration was held on Wednesday, September 13.
Under an overcast sky, Kathy Lawrence, Chair of the Greater Newburgh Parks Conservancy welcomed Superintendent of School Dr. Jackielyn Manning Campbell, Councilwoman Ramona Monteverde, Board of Education members, students of South Middle and other supporters and colleagues.
“We really appreciate having these trees here. We have more areas that could use them. So we hope that we can get some more planted because the more trees that we have, the better air we get to breathe,” said South Middle School Principal Roderick Phoenix.
Dr. Manning Campbell expressed gratitude for the trees that were planted and donated by the GNPC that will be part of the future generations of Newburgh students and families. “The Newburgh Enlarged City School District has a rich history of pride and tradition. As you know, our history spans generations of families in our community. These trees are a symbol of the roots that are planted here and the growth that we see in our students, families, educators and surrounding community,” she said. “While we typically focus on the traditional elements of reading, writing and arithmetic when thinking of educating our children, it is also important for our students and school community to have a welcoming setting in which to learn and grow. We continue to be thankful for the Greater Newburgh Parks Conservancy for the part they play in educating our children, not only in planting these beautiful trees, but also in preparing our young graduates to be leaders in our community.”
Newburgh’s Poet Laureate Genie Abrams read an original piece titled But the Trees in celebration of the event for the school and community. “We all go the same way in the heat of the day - in the wilt, the scorch, the fry. Everyone crosses the street for shade - the heroes, the homeless and I. But the trees: The trees at the curb will never disturb us; instead, they stolidly stand with leaves and roots to clean and cool our water, air and land. We’re making our nation a dry desperation of dust, drought and fire. Rain on the walk now turns to steam as the temperature climbs higher. But the trees: Their gracious green shelter combats the swelter - quells carbon, wind and storms, bestowing us beauty as well as relief as the city we love ever warms. Oh, it comes at a cost, this poison exhaust - we cough and choke and wheeze, but trees keep us alive, so if we survive, we’ll have none else to thank but the trees.”
The planting of these trees in front of the school was made possible through the TD Tree Days grant, created in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation. Scenic Hudson also provided additional support for the efforts in planting the trees. The GNPC and EJF continue the goal of planting trees across the city to address the reported 4000 empty pits. In that time, trees have been planted along the Broadway corridor and other neighborhoods in the city. Newburgh Free Academy has also been planned to receive 29 new trees planted on their school grounds.