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Castaic students plant trees

26 out of 1,000 trees planted in SCV

Posted: November 20, 2008 9:28 p.m.
Updated: November 21, 2008 4:55 a.m.
A group of Castaic Middle School students prepares a hole for one of the 26 African Sumac trees they planted. A group of Castaic Middle School students prepares a hole for one of the 26 African Sumac trees they planted.
A group of Castaic Middle School students prepares a hole for one of the 26 African Sumac trees they planted.
The uphill slope leading to the Castaic Middle School parking lot got a facelift Wednesday when 60 eighth-grade science students planted 26 African Sumac trees along Hillcrest Parkway.

"We are very proud to be part of this because Castaic Middle School is a hidden jewel," said Principal Ellen Edeburn.

Designed to beautify the county with greenery, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works' Parkway Tree Planting Project was created to plant more than 1,000 trees of various species in unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County.

Partially funded by a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Villaraigosa-Kelley Act of 2001, the 26 trees on Hillcrest Parkway are the only ones program officials planted in the Santa Clarita Valley.

A school neighbor and county employee chose the site for planting.

"This was an interesting program," Edenburg said. "It also tied into a career-sharing opportunity."

A county civil engineer and landscape architect gave science students an oral presentation before planting.

"They talked about the benefits of having the trees there, and the importance and benefits of adding greenery," said John Kunak, who sits on the governing boards of Castaic's town council and school district.

"They talked about plant care and explained why they selected the trees and why it was healthy for the environment."

After the presentation, Kunak, science teachers John De Delemos and June Downs, several county representatives and the students donned bright yellow-and-orange vests and got their hands dirty.

Eighth-grader Dana Del Poso, 13, held the shovel, did a little digging and learned something new.
"I was excited about planting a tree," Del Poso said. "I have never done that before. I did do some smaller flower planting with my mom."

Del Poso is considering the field of dentistry after college and said learning about careers in the science field was interesting.

Bright, confident, smiley Reilly Egan took the morning's events one step farther when she and her friends named several of the trees they planted. Reilly did it because she felt a personal connection to the project.

"We named one Barack and one Michelle," she said. The 13-year-old eighth-grade student, who plans to write the Great American Novel after college at Berkeley, said she really enjoys working in the community, and the day's events made her feel good about giving back.

Castaic Middle School is a California Distinguished School and the only state-designated School to Watch in the Santa Clarita Valley.

A county-owned machine did all the real dirty work, according to eighth-grade student Riley Souisa, 13, of Castaic. But he still got down in the soil and helped out.

The tree-planting experience taught Souisa something he didn't previously know: He had never planted at home.


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