Randalls Island Park Alliance

Innovation Comes to Randall’s Island

In New Ideas and Expansions on July 20, 2012 at 11:11 am

By Phyllis Odessey

Sometimes you just get lucky.  The day I picked up the phone and it was Stephen Ritz of Innovation High School was a fortuitous day.

He made us an offer, we could not refuse.

Steve is the Associate Director of the Sustainable Careers Program at Innovation.  He came to Randall’s to discuss the possibility of using Randall’s as the site for the summer program in 2012.  Victoria Ruzicka, Natural Areas Manger, Debbie Unger, Turf Manager and myself met with Steve to discuss the possible projects the kids could work on during the summer.  Our list was never ending.  Creating new warning tracks in the ball fields at Sunken Meadow to planting trees in the White Garden to erosion control at the Bronx Kill are only a few of the tasks we would like to accomplish.

I recently asked Steve the goals of the program.

1. To expose students to real work experience – this is their first non-family paying job.

2.  To expose students tot he wonderful resources and beauty that is Randall’s Island – we are the closest high school in NYC to Randall’s  Island; yet mot of the students have never been to Randall’s or aware of what Randall’s has to offer.

3.  To connect students to nature, ecosystems and related school curriculum.

4.  To build interpersonal and social skills, teamwork, exercise, proper health and nutritional awareness.

5. To expose students to a myriad of career options

6.  To develop meaningful relationships with adults in a responsible setting.  Many of our students do no see responsible community adults.

We have been working with 24 students for the past two weeks.  As Deb Unger said at the orientation, “we hope to teach you some new skills and at the same time we hope to learn from you.”  So far this as proved true.  We are all looking forward to an incredibly productive summer.


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