Groundwork Becomes Part of Riverside HS
By Marleen Leventhal, Teacher

It all started a year ago when Groundwork asked a group of Riverside High students to help the National Parks Service cut down some trees to make a path at the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, NY. Who would have thought that a day trip to Hyde Park could have changed so many lives? Riverside’s partnership with Groundwork has been a life-altering experience for many of our students at Riverside.

It was a unique experience for our kids to cut down trees and clear a path up at Vanderbilt Mansion. Inner city youth, who had never used hand saws, cutting down trees? The kids loved it and felt so valued for doing such a good deed.

Then along came The Groundwork Youth Forum in Milwaukee. Groundwork Hudson Valley brought two students to the Forum, providing such a unique experience for them…. Flying on a plane for the first time, visiting a new city, Milwaukee, meeting other students from all over the country, and learning about the wonderful work of Groundwork across the nation!

Next step… Groundwork in the classroom. In the fall of 2009 Groundwork began teaching classes twice a week as part of our Environmental Science course. This brought wonderful guests, great lectures and awesome trips! Wading waist deep in the Saw Mill River, taking water samples and seining for fish was phenomenal for the kids! The many hands-on experiences, trips, and lectures were superb.

Another great experience: Monthly Groundwork Intergenerational Meetings! Our students were so crucial in helping create a community garden. Hammering, digging, clearing weeds, building flower beds, transporting soil…. all new and exciting experiences for our students. Activities they will never forget! Meeting and helping seniors gave the Riverside crew a whole new way of relating to seniors.

The list of exciting and unique experiences gets longer and longer!

The ultimate life altering experience for our kids is happening right now! Seventeen Yonkers High School students are now currently employed by Groundwork! This experience has been a life learning event for our kids: going on interviews, getting working papers, traveling to Vermont, meeting new friends, and becoming a member of the Green Team, making direct, positive changes in their community!

Many thanks to; Rick, Curt, Vernon, and Emily for becoming part of the Riverside family. You have helped change and enrich many students’ lives and futures. Our Groundwork experiences have been unforgettable!