North's Captivating Courtyard: Spotlight on North's Hardworking Clubs
By Ericka Leus
Volume 1 Issue 8
June 8, 2021
Original photos by Christy Mansfield and Christina Ossa. Top left: National Junior Honor Society, Top right: North Star, Bottom left: Interact, Bottom right: Art Honor Society
You have most likely heard the saying “April showers bring May flowers” before, and that is exactly what has happened to North’s outdoor areas! Pushing through the heavy showers of April and moving into the late season of Spring, it has enabled several clubs at North to participate in cleaning up the outdoor garden areas of the Valley Stream North building’s courtyard. It has been the goal of these clubs to renovate and beautify the courtyard as a good way to end off the year on a high note, and it is true! As of the end of May, the courtyard and garden areas by the Valley Stream North sign look colorful, tidy, and inviting to those who view it. In this article, I will be discussing what some of these clubs have done to participate in North’s outdoor cleanup and their thoughts on it. I will also be introducing some outdoor aspects that these clubs are currently in the process of creating, so be sure to stay tuned!
National Junior Honor Society:
The National Junior Honor Society has played a big role in cleaning up the courtyard area of the school. Interestingly, NJHS has been working on this ongoing three-year project all this school year! They began their work in the fall and continued the work in early April. NJHS has received help from their many student members to help in its cleanup efforts, and their work is truly outstanding. With the help of advisors Mrs. Italiano and Mrs. Suarez, the club has been busy painting chairs, benches, and tables, planting flowers, painting the stones with intricate designs, and overall, renovating the various areas, even turning one into a ‘Zen Garden’. They have also done important physical work such as pulling weeds, washing stones, clearing bushes, and moving bricks. Currently the club is planning to work on the concrete stage and a pathway in the courtyard. The motivations that drove the club to clean up the courtyard was the idea of students and teachers occupying the courtyard during class. Currently, there have been multiple English classes that have taken their students out into the courtyard for independent reading and to take a break from their screens. Not only is the cleanup good for the garden, but it is also beneficial to our North community. It was believed that the better the courtyard looked, the happier it would make the North community: “The courtyard is a blank canvas for a garden and has so much potential to be beautiful” said NJHS advisor Mrs. Italiano. Mrs. Suarez also commented that “being outdoors and enjoying what we have played a huge role in encouraging the courtyard cleanup.” Regarding the courtyard, NJHS President Hannah Lee added, “We wanted to beautify it and make a safe, relaxing place in our school.” NJHS’s ‘Zen Garden’ is currently being worked on, and their progress so far looks amazing! Make sure to check it out when you have the chance to do it at school!
The Interact club, led by faculty advisors Ms. O’Donohue and Mrs. Baker, have taken their part in the courtyard cleanup by painting furniture such as chairs, tables, and benches. Over the last month, its several members have taken time to work after school to design images for the furniture. In the future, the club plans to volunteer on remaining projects for the courtyard. The inspirations for the club’s decoration all revolved around the missed opportunities this year due to Covid. Learning and school events are some of the important aspects of North that have changed. Therefore, cleaning up the courtyard would give students a push of motivation. After being masked in all day, having a nice, clean, and decorative outdoor courtyard to hang out in would help students. The chance to beautify the courtyard has also opened student service projects, which have been limited in the past year. But so many students earned many, many service hours because of the courtyard cleanup.
North Star’s faculty advisor, Mrs. Mansfield, came up with the great idea of having different clubs or grades “adopt” a table or bench in the courtyard, and personalize it after Mrs. Italiano reached out regarding our Courtyard Beautification project underway for the past three years now. So North Star has its very own table, and it is an item you cannot miss! The green-and-white-painted table displays the North Star logo and is amongst the pieces of furniture that stand out. This special project started just last month with help from junior Jack Schwabe, who helped prime the table. Other painters included Everton Prospere, Craig Papajohn Shaw, Lucy Wu, Garrick Neuner, and Grace Martinez, Mathew Olivencia, as well as Alyssa Garufi. Every day, there were kids out there willing to help with anything that was needed. Mrs. Mansfield described her experience as a “mood-elevating activity!” The renovated courtyard provides the opportunity for a change of scenery and fresh air on a nice day, and it will also be much more comfortable for the audience during the Drama Club’s annual “Shakespeare in the Courtyard”. There are QR codes on the table which bring you right to our North Star website, so be sure to check it out! Readers can read Issue 8 or check out our archives.
Art Honor Society:
The Art Honor Society, alongside faculty advisor Mr. Nafte, is credited with adding the intricate artistic touch to the courtyard. The plans for the courtyard consist of painting designs on stone slabs. Also, the honor society has plans to paint a special mural on the brick wall in honor of North. Rumor has it it’s going to be a lotus with a featured Spartan head, so be sure to check that out! AHS’s designated table in the courtyard is the colorful table with fruits on it, and it is currently in the final touches stage. The club has also displayed a garden sculpture, hoping to start a “garden sculpture revolution.” President Alena Moreira has done some impressive work on her own for the courtyard. She has dedicated her time to painting some chairs and tables in the past few years. The motivations for these decorative additions were inspired by the students of North. The courtyard is one of the very few outdoor places on North grounds where students can hang out during school hours. Having a student-personalized area to hang out allows students to feel safe and relaxed. “It’s like adding and maintaining a mini park on school grounds” said by Alena regarding AHS’s work. The outdoors was a big motivator as well. Taking advantage of the space makes it enjoyable to all. A breath of fresh air is something we all need during these times of staying indoors. As Mr. Nafte enthusiastically commented, “long live the courtyard!” or “Viva le courtyard!”
The Ecology club is fully dedicated to beautifying North’s outdoors and has been doing it for an impressive 15 years. This club focuses on the building’s outdoor areas and takes into consideration its condition. Once a month, its several student participants pick up trash on both school grounds and the area of Seabury Avenue. Not only do they make the Earth happy, but they also make residents happy as well! This school year, the Ecology club’s achievements include starting cleanups during the Fall. Have you seen the beautifully planted flowers by the Valley Stream North sign? That is all thanks to the Ecology club. With the help of faculty advisor Mrs. Restuccio, the club has planted over 100 tulips by the sign. The creation of a welcoming and attractive landscape was the main inspiration for their work. Planting and gardening itself is a process that students can benefit from, and the satisfying product of delicate flowers is a reward. Mrs. Restuccio emphasized the important idea that “gardening also has a positive physical and psychological effect on people.” Especially during Covid times, we have all been on our devices constantly. Gardening provides an opportunity where we can get off screens, get in a good workout, and have a positive mood.
Thank you, National Junior Honor Society, Interact, North Star, Art Honor Society, and Ecology Club for your outstanding work!