Bioscience students look to help community and environment with new learning garden


Video by Courtney Pedroza

Students from Bioscience High School gathered with members of the downtown Phoenix community to participate in the third annual Green Apple Service Day on Saturday, building a community learning garden.

The purpose of Green Apple Service Day is to emphasize the importance of community service and environmental thinking for students around the globe. Hundreds of events were held worldwide this year, with more than 40 events in the state of Arizona and 13 events in Phoenix.

Bioscience’s event was centered around creating the community learning garden. The project took place in a lot near Bioscience, just across 7th Street from the school. A community member allowed the school to use her property for the educational purpose.

The U.S. Green Building Council, which sponsored Green Apple Service Day, offered a grant to help fund Bioscience’s project. Lisa Clifton, a member of the council, said she believes that schools can have a great impact on both their own community and those around them.

“With schools you can affect a lot of people: students, parents, teachers, staff and then the community,” Clifton said.

The service day began early — by 9 a.m., students were in the cafeteria drawing plans for the garden. Elements included raised garden beds, an aquaponics system, a living kitchen and a fire pit. The city must approve the plans before building begins, so the project is still in its early stages.

At 10 a.m., volunteers were off to the lot, where students grabbed shovels, rakes and other tools to help transform the land into a garden. After about 10 minutes, progress was already being made and the ground was now in sight.

By 11 a.m., sophomore Nancy Ochoh’s hands had visible blisters, which even her work gloves could not prevent. Although the work was labor-intensive, she said the day was worthwhile.

“[It was] exhausting, hot, and productive,” Ochoh said of the event.

While some students used the event as an opportunity to fulfill volunteer hour requirements, others said they came to make a difference in the community.

“I’m here today because I think there are lasting impacts of turning this into something beneficial for our community,” Adam Rodriguez, a sophomore, said.

Senior Clarissa Smith, the sustainability officer of Bioscience, said the school will go further with eco-friendly thinking than just creating a garden.

Related: Bioscience becomes first Arizona school to include sustainability officer in student council

“We are trying to make things more green, because — even though we say we are a sustainable school and we implement sustainability into our curriculum — our recycling system is a joke,” Smith said. “So we are really trying to fix things like that.”

Smith is the only sustainability officer on a school student council anywhere in the United States, according to city councilman Bill Gates.

Lynn Palacios, an English teacher at Bioscience who is involved with student government and sustainability at the school, said she hopes events like this will inspire others to give back to their community.

“I really hope that we can — through events like this — just build on the experience and the compassion and the interest of being a productive member of society,” Palacios said. “We plan to have more events like this in the future. At the end of October, we will be participating in HandsOn Greater Phoenix and continuing work in our garden.”

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