Hillside Christian Schools celebrate “Plant-A-Tree Day” with the Nature Foundation 



PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten, — On March 22, the Hillside Christian Schools planted 31 Surinamese cherry trees and 1 basil plant on school grounds for Plant-A-Tree Day. Two planting events were organized at both the Helmich Snijders and Asha Stevens campuses as part of Biodiversity Awareness Month, an educational initiative spearheaded by the Nature Foundation Sint Maarten to promote awareness about the importance of diversity of life, from the genetic level to the ecosystem level.

The events were attended by Mrs. Asha Stevens-Mohabier, Chief Executive Director of Hillside Christian Schools; Mrs. Jacqueline Holiday, School Board Member; Mrs. Wendy Jack and Mrs. Avril Isaac, Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of TEATT; representatives of the Nature Foundation; and staff and students of both Hillside Christian School campuses.

Mrs. Stevens-Mohabier spoke at both events, touching on the significance of “putting down roots” and on the importance of learning to nurture life at a young age. Nature Foundation staff also made opening remarks in which they spoke about some of the crucial ecosystem services that trees provide. The seedlings were then placed into the ground by students from Groups 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, covered with dirt, and watered.

The Surinamese cherry seeds were obtained from Mrs. Stevens-Mohabier’s personal garden. They were originally planted by graduating Group 8 students from the previous school year and grown in the greenhouse on the Asha Stevens campus. The Hillside Christian Schools hope that this will become a new tradition for each graduating class, maintaining a physical and emotional connection to the school community that would persist for years to come.

It is also hoped that these trees will become part of the Hillside Christian School experience for current and future students. “At first, there was some concern about the chosen location, right in front of the school gate, where children may pick the cherries and eat them,” said Nina Edstrom, executive assistant, human resource manager, and coordinator of the event. “But then we decided that’s part of the beauty of it! We want our students to interact with the trees.”

Biodiversity Awareness Month is a Nature Foundation educational initiative running throughout the month of March. Each day, social media posts explore a different topic related to biodiversity on Sint Maarten and prompt readers and local organizations to take action.