In this space, read the voices of our students as they reflect on their personal experiences, school activities, and social life at Sky Islands.  They provide a window onto student culture, what students find here and the community they create together at Sky Islands. 

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All-School Tree Planting Day / March 2019

Nadia: My older schools never really did anything like that event. It was really fun to get out and enjoy planting the trees. I’m not very social, so hanging out with funny teammates was really nice. This school has many well-grown crops and plants; it adds so much more to the good crops/plants and the trees are going to look amazing when they grow. We usually sit around all day in a classroom, so it was cool to get moving. It would also be cool to have another event like this. This school already seems to be growing, lots of improvement and just a great school/community.

Sarava: My group planted four trees. I dug and used a pickaxe, I handled mulch, and helped water the newly planted trees. I felt the whole experience was fun, plenty of physical work, and I worked surprisingly well with my group. The best part of the day was when our tree snapped due to an accident, and now it’s sittin’ pretty with some pink zebra duct tape.

Sophia: For the whole tree planting day I was in the culinary class making food for our hard workers. Honestly, I’m glad I was making them food, they definitely deserved it. I think both sides worked hard. But those planting trees worked a lot more and were in the hot sun. I appreciate them. We put our hearts into the food we made that day. I felt proud to be able to cook for the students who worked really hard to help the school reach its goal. I’m so proud of the school and how much we can work together as a community to help reach a goal. I love our small loving school.

Olivia: For this day, I helped distribute trees to planting groups. I also directed groups to check in to see if their tree needed inoculation. I felt immensely proud of the work I did. It was an empowering day for me as well, for I was contributing to the survival of native species. Overall, this day (and my job) made me thankful that I am in the Restoration Ecology class. For me, all of the difficult times I had in that class were worth it. I learned to stand up for myself when I was faced with conflict.

Byrdee: On March 14th, 2019, our entire school had a tree planting day in the new Audubon Site. The first thing we had to do was dig a hole twice as wide as the pot the tree was in and only as deep as the base of the tree. The digging was slow and difficult due to the caliche. It was also hard to judge the depth of the pit to make sure it matched with the base of the tree. I think I might’ve flooded tree 9, slightly, but by our third tree (41) I got it down fairly well. All in all, I was tired by the end of the day, and excited about planting my first trees, ever! Our entire school actually planted every tree we had that day and it felt very accomplishing.

Kirsten: It was still fun even though it was tough, I feel like it brought the school together.

Oraibi: I think that having a large-scale project such as this can be a great way to bring students from all grades and friend groups together and get them to set aside their differences and reservations, so they can work together. I think this can be a great way to prepare them for future prospects where they will have to work together with people they may not know or even like on a grueling yet rewarding projectthat is bigger than them. It’s also a great bonding experience also that can bring the students and staff closer together.

Orion: The day before spring break this year our school had a day to plant trees in the restoration ecology site. This was very fun and interesting to do instead of a regular class. On the first tree that my group planted all of the soil came out and crumbled off of the tree roots and the tree dropped slightly and snapped after this. Teachers came over and duct taped it back together. This was very interesting to me because I didn’t know that you could tape the tree back together and the tree would graft back together. This will come in handy someday when I accidentally break a tree or woody-stemmed plant so that I know how to fix it. My favorite part of that day was using the pickaxe because I find it kind of fun to break up caliche clay using the pickaxe.

Haiden: The process was tiring but afterward, I felt really proud and accomplished. My favorite part of the tree planting was putting the trees into the ground and putting the soil on them and naming them.

Cole: I’ll be honest I’ve never done hard work like this before. I went to private schools for most of my life and they had a lot of strict rules. So having the chance to work hard with everyone helping was a fun and interesting. The best part for me was naming the trees I planted. We laughed about it and it’s kind of relieving to name them knowing I finished something big!

Anthony: I also liked how the TV news came and filmed us because that was a great way to share with the community what we do here.

Lukas: I helped out in the kitchen and we made pizza and prepared for lunch. We got all the pizza cranked out on time and there were a lot of compliments from the students about how good the pizza tasted. We should do this more often.

Tristan: On Thursday I worked outside by inoculating the plants that needed it. I have been in the restoration ecology class since it started, and I love working in the class. I have been a part of multiple projects at the school and I think it is awesome when the school comes together as a group to get a huge project done. The restoration ecology class has taught me a lot about horticulture and restoration and so have the other classes I have taken at the school. One thing I really love about the school is that it is really hands on. The school has inspired me to go to further schooling for a horticulture degree and maybe become a landscape designer when I am older.

Savannah: I really enjoyed the whole school working together. I think that it’s an important part of our school. Not only does the project bring us together, but it also helps the environment. Planting the trees was sometimes a difficult experience because of having to dig through the caliche. The project was an amazing experience.

Emme: The tree planting day was an important day for the restoration class. We are very close to finishing the Audubon site that we have had a grant for. I think it was a good experience for all the students. The whole school was able to be put into random groups and get all 45 trees planted. Now, all the students know how easy it is to plant a tree, and they might want to do it at home.

Jen: I felt that I accomplished something as an individual and as well as a teammate. Working as a team/or group made my experience working together and communicating all together as a group made the whole day easier and not just that, communicating with one another made those who didn’t knowhow to plant a tree to learn how to plant more accurately and right.