By Erin O’Hanlon ’17 and Aisha Suleiman ’18 — Horizons Media Team
The sophomores started their Horizons work on October 6 with a brief orientation before heading to North Street’s rain gardens in downtown Pittsfield. When the group arrived on North Street, they were split into three groups based on rain garden location in proximity to local landmarks: Sushi, Hot Harry’s, and Columbus. We observed the sophomores as they worked on introducing new plants to the rain gardens. Many of the students were enthusiastic about their work. Merriam Lrhazi ’19 said, “It’s like building sand castles, but colorful!”
Leading the group were Sophomore Horizons Advisor Ms. Rutledge and Science Teacher Ms. Daigle, who noticed the rain gardens on North Street and became inspired to learn more about them. Ms. Daigle said, “Rain gardens are the perfect way to keep polluted water from entering our water system.” The gardens collect surface stormwater—as well as road salt, sand, trash, and other contaminants carried in the stormwater—and prevent it from reaching the Housatonic River Watershed. Ms. Daigle is also excited to be bringing beauty to the streets of Pittsfield.
Jackie Rich ’17, an intern at the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA), helped lead the sophomores, who volunteered with the HVA and other community members to learn about the gardens’ form and function, install new plantings, and prepare the gardens for the winter. Founded in 1941, the HVA works to protect and restore the lands and waters of the Housatonic River Watershed, which spans parts of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. Since 2012, the nonprofit has hosted a student intern from the Miss Hall’s School Horizons program. Jackie got involved with the HVA last year through a school trip where she and other Miss Hall’s students helped clean up the rain gardens and removed invasive species from Burbank Park. Following this work, Jackie “fell in love with being outdoors and protecting the environment.” She looks forward to monitoring the plants that the sophomores planted and using her research to help other cities start successful rain gardens.