A team of students and teachers from the Academy of the Holy Angels spent a beautiful May Saturday helping Hackensack Riverkeeper tidy Kenneth B. George Park in River Edge.
Teachers Andrew Sanchez and Sean Hickey led a team of 20 students, who responded to a call for volunteers.
Student representatives included Ashley Rubin of Blauvelt, New York; Natalia Jefferson of Cresskill; Jacqueline LaMastra of Tenafly; Isabel Stein of Rutherford; Jolie Lo Grasso of Nutley; Jordan Kotch of Cornwall, New York; Daniela Marinuzzi, Sofia Vergona, Sophia Toscano, Nina Sango, and Laurenne Bai of Englewood Cliffs; Nicole Sinde of Englewood; Alexandra Valdez of Oakland; Isabella Troche of Prospect Park; Ashley Sung of Fort Lee; Paulina Morgan of Closter; Vanessa Medina of Nanuet, New York; Natalia Gonzalez of Paterson; Adriana Santos of Ridgefield; and Chaelin Park of Palisades Park.
“You were all amazing today,” Hickey and Sanchez told the students. “Thank you so much for volunteering to help clean up along the Hackensack. Everyone worked really hard and we collected a whole lot of trash.
"The Hackensack Riverkeeper really appreciated your efforts, and we hope you enjoyed yourselves and feel good about the work you did.”
Captain Bill Sheehan established Hackensack Riverkeeper in 1997. This Hackensack-based nonprofit is playing a significant role in improving the ecology of the Meadowlands.
Riverkeeper is involved in environmental advocacy, education, and conservation. According to Hackensack Riverkeeper’s website (www.hackensackriverkeeper.org) cleanups run through this organization clear 20,000 and 30,000 pounds of trash from local rivers and parks each year.
“I feel like there are many students at Holy Angels who want to get involved in bettering the environment, so Hackensack Riverkeeper, with their fun, well-run cleanups that offer a chance to clean up waterways as you paddle a canoe, seemed like a great opportunity,” Hickey said.
“We had an earlier cleanup two weeks before this cleanup with a smaller crew, working at the Oradell Reservoir, and after the outreach coordinator of the Hackensack Riverkeeper encouraged us to come back for another event, I decided to see if we could get another group together.”
Hickey was introduced to Hackensack Riverkeeper two years ago when he and AHA Director of Mission & Ministry Joan Connelly participated in a spring cleanup of Kenneth B. George Park.
"I had so much fun,” said Jolie Lo Grasso (Class of ’22). “Thank you for this wonderful opportunity again. I love to give a helping hand."
Jacqueline LaMastra '23 plans to extend her involvement with Hackensack Riverkeeper’s environmental activities.
“It was actually very fun to clean up garbage from around the Hackensack River, especially while in the canoes,” LaMastra commented. “I also enjoyed the cleanup because I was helping the environment become cleaner so it could thrive.”