In the long history of Huntington High School, few organizations have been able to pack as much of a wallop in their first year of existence as has the new environmental club.
Senior Rachel Roday and sophomore Noah Morris collaborated with science teacher Gina Carone to get the new club off the ground last fall. Members of the group turned out in full force on Thursday afternoon to rejuvenate a long neglected courtyard garden area and fill it with fresh topsoil and plants. Plans are underway to dedicate the lovely new space next fall to the memory of high school sophomore Eli Mollineaux, who passed away in late October.
Huntington High School will always remember Eli Mollineaux.
Ms. Roday and Mr. Morris are the founding co-presidents of the organization. The executive board also includes juniors Rachel Moss (recording secretary), Katerina Obermaier (treasurer), Lauren White (historian) and Katharine Kitzen (social media) and freshman Neil Jean-Baptiste (corresponding secretary). Ms. Carone is the club’s enthusiastic faculty advisor.
The club ordered 80 plants and about 20 bags of topsoil for the garden project. Two dozen students turned out to help plant roses, shrubs, ferns, hosta and assorted perennials. Assistant Principals Joseph DiTroia and Gamal Smith also stopped by to help.
The sale of more than 160 shirts for Earth Day provided the funds the club used to purchase the garden items. “We are so proud to go from nothing to this in eight short months,” Ms. Roday said.
Club members wasted little time before getting busy with shovels and rakes. No one seemed to mind getting a dirty. “The members of the environmental club continue to amaze me with what they can do,” Mrs. Carone said. “They were determined to raise enough money to plant this garden and they did it. I am so proud of their hard work and dedication.”
Considering how hard the soil was when students started digging, it seems safe to say a shovel hadn’t been put into the ground in the area in decades. But a little extra muscle power got the job done.
“I’m so proud of everything we’ve accomplished this year as the environmental club,” said Ms. Roday, who is headed to the University of Delaware. “Planting the garden was a lot of fun and I’m glad to give back to the high school after four amazing years. I look forward to hearing what Mrs. Carone and Noah have in store for the next few years. I know they will achieve great things.”
Mr. Morris has every intention of continuing to move the club forward. “When we first got approval for this club in the beginning of the year it was a huge accomplishment,” he said. “Looking back on it now makes me realize just how much we have accomplished since then. This garden is proof of all the hard work we did throughout the year; from selling Earth Day shirts to recycling paper. I’m looking forward to seeing how far we will come in the next school year, because with the dedication that these members have shown, it’s not hard to believe we can accomplish anything.”
The courtyard sits between two busy hallways and lies along a concrete walkway used by hundreds of students on any given day. As the teenagers pass the garden next year and for many years following, they are sure to get a good feeling as the plants spread their roots and the flowering perennials dazzle everyone with their colors.
“I look forward to seeing the garden grow in my next two years at Huntington,” sophomore club member Christiana DeLuca said.
The club’s seniors are taking comfort in knowing they have helped start something that is already making a real difference in the life of the high school.
“If feels really nice knowing that we are not only positively impacting the environment, but we are leaving a legacy for our school that, hopefully, will encourage other students to do the same every time they pass this beautiful garden,” Rutgers University bound senior Jonathan Shechter said.