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WTHS SAVE Club Members Clean Up School’s Rain Garden

As a salute to Earth Day, members of the Washington Township High School SAVE (Students Against Violation of the Earth) Club spent time on April 20th cleaning out the school’s rain garden, removing weeds, leaves, and cutting back existing plants and natural grasses to spur the garden’s regrowth. The group also planted a new blueberry bush in the space.

The WTHS SAVE Club is comprised of 30 environmentally conscious students and is under the direction of advisor and WTHS teacher Donna Pancari.

The rain garden was installed four years ago on the 11-12 wing of the school with the help of the Rutgers extension project and the District’s operations staff and through the financial backing of the Washington Township Education Foundation.

“We thought this would be a really nice thing to do given the timing of Earth Day on Saturday,” Pancari said. “It’s the perfect time to clean things out for the once-dormant plants to regrow. The different layers of gravel that we have down in this rain garden, as well as the plants themselves, help filter water that is coming off the school building. The garden prevents the water from flowing out to the concrete and asphalt, picking up toxins and being re-absorbed into the ground as now polluted water.

Once the flowering plants and grasses begin thriving in the coming weeks, the group will be installing signage to remind visitors to respect the beauty and importance of the space.

“This has been the most environmentally aware group I’ve had,” Pancari said. “They all came in with knowledge of basic things that I had to teach kids years ago – like avoiding disposable things in favor of reusable things and trying to reduce consumption. These kids already are starting with that awareness, so we are able to move into all sorts of political, environmental actions to try to make our concern for the environment known to a wider community, to our state and nation. They have been amazing.”