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Mission Statement:
Empower each individual to make responsible choices, meet challenges, achieve personal success, and contribute to a global society.

September 17, 2013

Hundreds enthusiastically participate in Birchwood Nature Trail celebration

Hundreds converged upon the Birchwood Elementary School grounds in Niskayuna for a Back-to-School Barbecue and Nature Park celebration on Friday, September 20.

Students of all ages enjoyed cotton candy, face painting, and more as parents mixed and mingled with old friends and chatted with Birchwood staff. "Everyone enthusiastically ushered in the new school year while bringing the summer to a close," shared Debra Berndt, Birchwood Principal, adding, "It's going to be an excellent academic and social year for our students here as we started it all off on an outstanding note."

Two special ribbon cutting ceremonies that took place to celebrate the early accomplishments of the efforts to restore Birchwood Elementary School's 1950's established Nature Park were the highlights of the evening.

Last year, the PTO developed a comprehensive plan to restore the Birchwood Nature Park and outdoor classroom, ultimately putting the school on a path towards sustainability. Much progress has been made since the start of this project, including the addition of a butterfly garden and raised vegetable and herb beds.

Deb Foley, PTO Co-President, thanked all those who have supported the revitalization efforts over the past several months and also took the opportunity to highlight the contributions made by Birchwood students. "Paws For The Park" was a student-initiated fundraiser for the Birchwood Nature Park that raised money specifically for the development of a butterfly garden.

Students who started Paws and all those who worked with and supported it were asked to come forward to participate in the ribbon cutting, signifying the opening of the garden. In addition, students from the 5th grade graduating Class of 2013 returned to cut the ceremonial ribbon to the newly installed raised beds in which they left a monetary legacy gift to help purchase

"Birchwood parents, student and staff have pitched in to recreate the Birchwood Nature Park as a living symbol of our thriving school community here at Birchwood Elementary," commented Kim McClive-Reed, Birchwood Nature Park Committee Co-Chair.

The PTO also took this opportunity to recognize significant community contributions to the Birchwood Nature Park initiative as well. A special thank you was extended to the Niskayuna Community Foundation who awarded Birchwood a $2,500 grant towards restoration efforts and academic enrichment tied to the Park. Also thanked were those business and private donors who contributed matching funds to the awarded grant.

"This project has taken on a life of its own amongst members of the school and general community," said Foley as she continued to explain, "We still have work to do as we continue on our path to establishing a 21st Century Nature Park, but we are well on our way to a bright 'green' future here at Birchwood Elementary."

For more information on how you can support the Birchwood Nature Park, please contact Deb Foley at