Like all schools, Newark Charter School goes through a lot of paper in a year. On Saturday, a group of students teamed up to plant trees in an effort to counteract the environmental impact of all that paper.

“With all the packets and homework and tests, we’re using so much paper,” student Jillian Cain said. “This is our way to offset it.”

Cain and Avery Young, both seniors and members of the school’s environmental club, pitched the project to science teacher Erica Miller and worked with Tree-Plenish, a nonprofit that helps schools estimate their paper usage and plant trees to offset it.

They sold trees for $5 each to local residents, and a team of 30 volunteers from the school fanned out across Newark to plant the trees in the buyers’ yards on Saturday. The students surpassed their original goal, selling and planting 271 trees – a mix of red maples, eastern red buds and eastern white pines.

“It’s affordable, you’re helping the community, and you get a beautiful tree,” Cain said.

Young said she was excited to see her classmates and even teachers get involved with the project.

“It’s been quite cool,” she said. “We just had our elementary school gym teacher, who we haven’t seen since third grade, pick up a tree.”

Young and Cain are no strangers to environmental projects. Their capstone project was helping form a gardening club at the Boys and Girls Club, and their environmental club holds an annual marker drive, collecting used markers from the school and sending them to Crayola to be recycled.

Young said they were inspired by the classes in their global leadership program, one of several “pathways” NCS high school students can choose.

“It was very transformative for high school students,” she said.

Even though Cain and Young are graduating, Miller said she hopes the tree-planting event grows into a bigger, annual event.

“I’m so proud of them,” Miller said. “It really took off. Our community is so great.”

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