Flashback: Kensington Woods hosts service day

Kensington Woods hosts service day

Abby Welsh Alusheff, Livingston DailyPublished 7:04 a.m. ET April 17, 2016

Kensington Woods High School students helped out the community Thursday during the school's first service day.

Kensington Woods High School students helped out the community Thursday during the school's first service day.

Kensington Woods High School students helped out the community Thursday during the school's first service day.

“It’s all about giving back, and that is exactly what the kids did,” said Amy Pickell, a math teacher at Kensington Woods who was at the Strawberry Point Nature Preserve in Hamburg Township clearing invasive plants and picking up trash as part of a Livingston Land Conservancy effort.” The kids just dove right in when we got there.”

Jessie Pratt, Kensington Woods education programming director, suggested a service day to give back to the community and get out of the classroom during state testing last week.

“We were all on board when she mentioned it,” Pickell said. “We knew this was something both teachers and the kids would want to be involved with.”

Sixth- through 12th-grade students participated, except for 11th-graders because they were testing Thursday.

The teachers met to discuss places where students could help out. Suggestions included land preserves and cleaning up trash around homes and lakes.

“Most of the teachers are familiar with the county because we grew up here, so it was easy to pick locations,” Pickell said. “The kids seemed thrilled when they got their first choice.”

Kimmy Wooton, a ninth-grader, chose to come to the Strawberry Point Nature Preserve because she enjoys being outside and around nature.

“I wanted to clean up, and this was my first time helping the community,” Wooton said, who was helping five other students put invasive plants into piles to clear away. “This is what my entire morning has consisted of, and it was tiring but rewarding.”

Kensington Woods 10th grader Isaac Provencher, left, and seventh grader Nathan Picano clear wood debris from the woods of Strawberry Point Nature Preserve in Hamburg Township as part of the school's day of service. (Photo: Gillis Benedict/Livingston Daily)

Kensington Woods 10th grader Isaac Provencher, left, and seventh grader Nathan Picano clear wood debris from the woods of Strawberry Point Nature Preserve in Hamburg Township as part of the school's day of service. (Photo: Gillis Benedict/Livingston Daily)

The students were at the preserve to remove garlic mustard, which kills off other natural plants and can become invasive if not controlled. The students kept track of the garlic mustard plants they picked from the ground because the most garlic mustard was found — 26,000 plants — last year.

Micki Milano, another ninth-grader, was shocked at how many invasive plants were at the preserve.

“This place was just as dirty as a lake, with so much garbage and trash and invasive plants taking over the property,” Milano said. “I wanted to help take care of this.”

Milano wasn't aware of the how fast the plant could overtake an area.

“I didn’t know how quickly and overspread invasive plants are,” Milano said. “It amazed me how the roots under the ground spread as quick as they do.”

The students weren’t the only ones gaining knowledge about the environment. Pickell said it was a day of insight for her as well.

“I didn’t know about a lot of the invasive plants, I didn't know what certain kinds were or where they grow, so it was a learning experience for me, too,” Pickell said. "I was also able to get to know the students on more of a personal level outside of the classroom, so that was nice.

“We want to do this year after year, and try and come out to the same places to help,” she added.