The 26 Tree Initiative

The Bard Bulletin
BHSEC’s 26-Tree Initiative
By Caleb Madison
Photographed by Henry Swertloff

As part of Mayor Bloomberg’s incentive to plant 1 million trees in New York City by 2017, BHSEC recently planted 26 trees in its yard. Funded by NYC Parks and the New York Restoration Project (a charity founded by Bette Midler), the city’s arboreal initiative, called PlaNYC, is part of a larger plan of 127 proposals for a greener city that was unveiled by Mayor Bloomberg in 2007. Though New York City’s carbon emissions rival the entire country of Ireland, each New Yorker produces 70% less greenhouse gas emissions than an average American.

BHSEC’s initiative includes three different kinds of trees. On the west side of the yard stand six Littleleaf Linden trees whose flowers provide a natural herbal remedy, perfect for students who distrust the Swine Flu vaccine. Lining the perimeter of the eastern part of the yard are ten Honey Locust trees, which produce edible legume pods, perfect for hungry students still mourning the loss of the Blue Truck. Lastly, ten Zelkova trees, an endangered species, fill the southeastern part of the yard.

Although students mostly appreciate the trees, some argue their placement could have been wiser. “It’s annoying that they were planted on top of the basketball courts,” says Junior Gabriel Wirz, “they had plenty of room to plant other places in the yard.” Some students argue that this choice reflects the administration’s lack of priority for BHSEC athletics.

In response to these criticisms, Principal Ray Peterson explains that over the past few years he has only observed one court being used. But freshman who are confined to the yard for their first semester lunch period disagree. “Even though we might not use the second court all the time, because of the trees, now we don’t even have the option,” says one freshman.

The placement of the trees, however, may in fact be conductive to BHSEC athletics in the long run. Mr. Peterson states that part of the reason that the trees had to be concentrated on either side of the yard, is because of plans to extend the school building. If the plans for expansion were to come to fruition, the building would extend into the center of the yard. The trees couldn’t be planted in the area where the new building is supposed to lie, so they were confined to the other areas of the yard, one of which, unfortunately, was the basketball court. According to Mr. Peterson, since the school’s extension would include a full-sized gym, the loss of the second basketball court is actually a sacrifice for the greater good of BHSEC athletics.

When can we expect this gym? “We probably won’t break ground until after you graduate,” Mr. Peterson told me. Taking into account the bureaucratic nature of the Department of Education, this prediction seems optimistic. Nevertheless, it is something future generations of BHSEC students have to look forward to.

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