Ariana Lubelli May 30, 2017, 12:51 pmMay 30, 2017, 1:56 pm

Mt. Vernon High School 'adopts' Wilson's Woods Park

20 Mt. Vernon students were honored by the Westchester County Executive and Parks Foundation as the county's first school to adopt a park

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"There's a bunch of bottles and plastic in the water. Over there, you see a plastic cup,” said sophomore Alex Lewack, one of about 20 Mount Vernon High School students that have made cleaning up and developing Wilson’s Woods Park their mission.

"It will make them feel better about coming here, especially Mount Vernon because it can get a bad rep but now, they see our students,” said Lewack. “We're cleaning up the park. They'll be like ‘that's really cool’ and they will want to check it out and it will attract more visitors here."

"It needs to be cleaned,” said senior Destiny Douglas. “The lake, it was beautiful last year but there has been a dramatic change. "

Today, they released trout that the raised in their environmental science class. The group has planted blueberry bushes, built bird boxes, tested water purity and cleaned up the polluted area. Their efforts were recognized, as they became the first Westchester high school to adopt a park.

"The student morale is unbelievable. To have them feel celebrated, first of all, is really something else,” said Mount Vernon High School principal Ronald Gonzalez. “To have them feel a sense of accomplishment, you know, a sense of ownership, this is their work."

Seth Mandelbaum, of the Westchester Parks Foundation, remarked, "At a young age, seeing what volunteerism can do for our parks system is a really fantastic example that they are setting for all other high schools in Westchester County."

They received an official proclamation in a special ceremony with Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the school district, and the Westchester Parks Foundation, the group behind the 'Adopt a Park’ program.

The tight-knit clean up is a combined group of special education and general education students.

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