A tree grows in Bay Ridge with the help of P.S. 185

The tiny sapling looked more like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree than a majestic sycamore when State Senator Marty Golden and students at P.S. 185 lowered its root ball into the ground.

But, said Golden, as he joined students, parents and staff at the Ridge Boulevard and 87th Street school to celebrate Arbor Day on Friday, April 27, within a few years that small tree would be as large as those already shading the schoolyard, and students could look at it and remember that they had helped to plant it.

“This is extremely important,” Golden told the youngsters. “it was one person who stood up and said we have to do something about trees, and helped to create what we have today called Arbor Day. That one person could be one of you.”

That the school would take time out – on the last day of the standardized math exams, to boot – to embrace nature is not surprising. Students already tend a vegetable garden at the front of the school and P.S. 185’s Go Green Team – open to third through fifth graders – is so popular that there is a lottery for admission.

Working with parents, the students in the Go Green Team learn about the environment and sustainable practices and then teach their classmates what they have learned. The students also put their learning into practice.

“We compost some of the school lunches,” noted parent Stefania Vasquenz. “We recycle newspapers. We learned about energy conservation and we try to get the teachers to shut the lights off when they leave the room.”

And, that’s not all. Students “grow seedlings in their classrooms that they bring outside to plant,” said parent Adele Doyle, who also said that the school had recently received a $4,000 grant from Lowe’s to create an outdoor science program focused on environmental science.

“We have learned so much in the schoolyard this year,” added P.S. 185 Principal Ken Llinas, who noted, “Marty gave us the seedling. I think it represents a vision of growth for the future.”

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