I started the week off at Hopwood Junior High School. I spent Monday morning judging alternative energy presentations. The students have been studying alternative energy choices for Saipan, such as solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear, and hydro, for about two months. On Monday they had to pretend that they represented a government agency or community group and that they were at a public hearing, trying to persuade the judges to accept their assigned alternative energy as a viable alternative to diesel powered generators in Saipan.
The presentations were not bad for middle school kids. I couldn't stand up and talk to a group of over 200 people when I was that age.
The group that really impressed me was the group representing the Mayor's Office. They did the best job of focusing on the public forum format and discussing how their plan related to Saipan specifically.
Later in the afternoon when the presentations were finished, 27 students helped me plant 75 Da'ok trees (Calophyllum inophyllum) around the Hopwood campus. When they are taller, the trees will provide shade for students who have classes outdoors or who choose to go outside during breaks.
Let me just say that hanging out with 12 and 13 year olds is always an adventure. The kids were pretty stoked about swinging the picks, but not about spreading the trees around the campus. When I saw my plan of the kids working in teams falling apart, I took the shovels and picks away and made them lay out all the trees first. Once the trees were in place, it was just a matter of letting the kids get a little dirty.
We planted trees around the perimeter of the playing field and in the area around the flagpole. The trees around the playing field will play the dual purpose of providing shade and blocking out some of the noise from Beach Road.
Hopefully the kids will take ownership in their hard work and will keep the other kids from harming the trees. If they do, 10 years down the road the students at Hopwood will have a little more shade on their campus.
I went back to the school on Thursday to present the 27 kids with Beautify CNMI! T-shirts. Since they were having a free day to celebrate the last school day of the semester, Bree was able to make the presentation in front of the whole school.
Hopefully the other kids will get jealous of the attention the tree planters got and will want to volunteer with us in the future. Like I said, hopefully.
The Da'ok trees were donated by Caesar and Ignacia Villaluz. The shovels and picks were donated by Marianas RC&D. The students are in Mrs. Bree Reynolds 7th period Science Lab.