Northstar makes short work of blackberry bushes

Blackberry bushes and morning glory vines at Everest Park recently met their match.

On Sept. 23, Northstar Junior High School's 90 students - plus teachers and parents - wielded clippers, shovels and even big sticks to reclaim large areas of the park from the invasive plants. Under the direction of a Kirkland Parks Department supervisor, the group worked the entire school day to spruce up the park.

Northstar has worked as a group at Everest Park for over three years, previously working together at the South Rose Hill Park. Working together on a community service project has been an important part of the Northstar school year throughout its 25 year history. Starting the school year out with such a project is a great way for students and teachers to get to know one another.

This year Northstar has welcomed two new teachers on staff and put them right to work. Ericka Fleming arrived at Northstar from Oregon where she taught high school science. At Northstar she will be teaching math, health and science.

Vincent Noto last taught in Seattle and will teach English and physical education at Northstar.

After a few hours of bush whacking there was a need to refuel, so everyone enjoyed muffins and lemonade during a morning break and then broke for lunch later in the day. Conversation over lunch included talk about the big spiders and how many baseballs had been found. The day was a success in many ways. Not only because of the work done but also because of the opportunity for students to get acquainted or reacquainted.

In addition to this all-school event, every year each student at Northstar commits to spend a minimum of 30 hours helping out in the community. With 90 students, that adds up to 2,700 hours of service. Throughout the school year, groups of Northstar students will help out in the community in various ways.

For example, on the first Saturday of each month, a group of Northstar students will be spending some time at Food Lifeline in Seattle packaging food for distribution to food banks throughout Western Washington. On Oct. 1 the group was busy for three hours sorting bread and ice cream and packaging frozen carrots to be sent to area food banks - perhaps some of it being delivered right here to Hopelink in Kirkland.

The community that is served by Northstar is far-reaching, as the students come from throughout the school district. There are as many different ways of helping in the community as there as students.

Many students had returned to their elementary school for their community service, helping the teachers as assistants or tutoring the younger students. Others liked working outdoors and could be found working on numerous hiking trails. Some students enjoyed working with animals, for instance training guide dogs or helping with horse rides for the disabled.

The best community service project is when both the community and the student benefit. Finding a good fit can lead to a life long commitment of community service.[[In-content Ad]]