Freshman class heads to Guadalupe River Park Conservancy for community service trip


Prameela Kottapalli

A nature guide points the attention of a group of freshmen towards a tree in the distance. The freshman service trip was held yesterday.

The Class of 2019 went to the Guadalupe River Park and Conservancy for the annual freshman service day yesterday morning from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m to learn about the environment and to perform community service.

In previous years, freshmen were grouped by advisories, where they volunteered at various community service centers, such as the Rose Garden and Eco Magic. This year, the entire freshman class volunteered together.

“We used to have the class bonding activities for the freshmen, but we didn’t have the event that all freshmen got to do together, so this helped fulfill that,” Biology teacher Kate Schafer said.

All students with smartphones were required to download the iNaturalist app. The students used the app to keep record of the various of flora and fauna they learned about at the park during the educational portion of the trip, including several types of trees along the paths and invertebrates from the Guadalupe River.

“We never had a service trip where the kids actually learned,” said Diana Moss, former Class of 2015 dean and the other coordinator of the trip. “The tree identification and then looking at the macroinvertebrates in the water really helped us recognize that even though there’s practically no water left, there’s still this whole living ecosystem to examine.”

Cindy Moreno, lead Education Coordinator for the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, explains what she wishes for Harker students to take away from the experience.

The other part of the day was devoted to community service and cleaning up around the conservancy. Students used reaching tools to collect trash alongside the river as well as around trees and found wrappers, cigarette butts, napkins and an assortment of unexpected items.

“I certainly don’t think [cleaning up the park] is my passion,” Haris Hosseini (9) said. “But it’s necessary to do it, and at the end of the day, it’s good service.”

Other students shared different sentiments about the trip.

“In another few months it will be covered in trash again, so it wasn’t effective community service,” Jennifer Hayashi (9) said. “The education part was a waste of time, too, because we weren’t helping the community by learning that stuff.”

While the freshmen were at the conservancy, the sophomores and juniors took the PSATs and the seniors had a day off to finish college applications . The trip fulfilled five out of the ten hours of community service required for freshmen. All classes have up until the end of the second semester to complete their community service requirement of ten hours per year.