Lynnfield High is aware of environment

From left: Lauren St. Andre, Natalie Connell, Jordan Lavey and Kayla Tracy break up the earth around the bulb of the tree they are planting. (Spenser Hasak)

LYNNFIELD – The high school celebrated Arbor Day with some projects that will not only beautify the natural world, but will also make a big contribution to protecting the environment and fighting climate change.

Armed with shovels, about 20 members of the school’s new Environmental Awareness Club rolled up their sleeves and got dirty by planting 16 new trees near the entrance to the teachers’ parking lot.

Club leaders Georgia Milne and Jordan Lavey said the project had been in the works for nearly a year. Both seniors say they are committed to doing whatever it takes to protect the environment.

“I was just fed up with people doing nothing. There was too much talk and not enough action,” said Lavey, who plans to study environmental science at Virginia Tech. “Georgia and I had this idea last August. We had to act and thought this would be a really good way to help the community and make a real difference.”

“It feels great that this is all coming together and people are just as excited as we are,” said Milne, who plans to study politics at St. Anselm College this fall. “We’re just trying to be kind to the planet and using our voices and actions for kindness. The greatest thing you can do is plant trees, so it’s fitting that we do that on Arbor Day.”

Club advisor and science department chair Scott Gordon said the high school campus lost many trees over the years between the neighbors’ move, the school renovation, and the grass field project.

“This fills a very important need for the property,” Gordon said. “One of our first measures is to reforest the campus as much as possible.”

Funded with $1,000 from the Department of Public Works, the new arboretum is located on the hillside near the memorial benches and tree.

All trees are from Massachusetts. Varieties include oak, maple, birch, tulip and aspen, all planted in close proximity, which Gordon says reflects what natural forests look like with densely packed trees.

“We forest as opposed to landscaping,” Gordon said. “We grow with the forest.”

Tree committee chair Jane Bandini said the trees would take about a year before they started growing.

“These trees are a nice size, they’re easy to plant, and they take less time to take off and grow compared to the trees you see in nurseries, which are much larger and much more expensive,” she said. “The big ones, that’s maybe four to five calipers, need four to five years before they grow.”

Gordon hopes the area will serve multiple purposes.

“We can use the area as an educational garden to teach classes about tree identification, which is a class we teach along with things like climate change and ecology,” Gordon said. “We also hope that the area is just a pleasant place to relax during the day for a moment of mindfulness.”

Earlier in the day, students in one of Gordon’s classes planted a butterfly garden behind the school as part of a sustainability project. Gordon said the garden, which includes spurge, Joe Pye weed, yarrow and echinacea, should attract butterflies in late summer.

Gordon said the plan going forward is to apply for grant money next year to plant more trees elsewhere in the high school and that the club has already identified potential sites for future plantings.

Milne said the time to save the planet is now.

“It’s hard to hear that there will be no future for our planet unless you work on it,” she said. “It is an initiative that everyone has to work on. We just have to be kind to our planet. This is the greatest challenge we will face in our lives. There is no time to continue these 10-year studies. We must act now and we are doing it.”

Lavey said she is confident the club will continue to fulfill its mission long after the seniors have passed away.

“I’m really proud that people are willing to get their hands dirty and come out for it,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to the future of the club. We seniors will be gone, but the younger classes will carry on what we started, so that’s really rewarding. We just pass the torch on to them.”