WCLT Scholarships 2019
In 2019 the Westborough Community Land Trust (WCLT) awarded two $1,000 scholarships and two honorable mentions to graduating Westborough High School (WHS) seniors. Awards were made on the basis of essays written for WCLT’s annual Earth Day Essay Contest.
Nicholas Smaldone won a scholarship for his essay describing a special place behind his home and how it inspired him to work on the issue of the availability of water in a sustainable world. He plans to attend George Washington University to study international affairs and to minor in journalism.
Mary McCormack received a scholarship for her essay about water pollution and contamination and her efforts to change Westborough residents’ thinking and actions regarding storm drains on the basis of her insight that people tend to think of storm drains as sewers rather than drains emptying into local rivers and streams. She will attend Boston College to study biology on the pre-med track.
Bethany Woodcock was recognized with an honorable mention for her essay describing her calling to local community service and her work in mobilizing other students to better the local environment through projects such as the OARS Assabet River Clean-up and WHS Rangers Give Back Day. She plans to attend the University of Pittsburg in the college of business.
Lydia O'Connell received an honorable mention for her essay describing her love of hiking and the Charm Bracelet trail system, her work on trails and bog bridging, and how this inspired her to improve the local environment through water bottle fillers at the high school and the recycling of plastic bags and soft plastics. Before attending the University of St. Andrews to study chemistry, she plans to take a gap year to work on conservation in Thailand and then work as an au pair in China.
“It was wonderful to read the very fine group of Earth Day essays we received this year. All the students who participated show a sincere connection to the natural environment in ways that inspire them to be part of an environmentally conscious generation,” said Annie Reid of the WCLT Scholarship Committee. “As always, WCLT thanks families, WHS teachers and clubs, and Boy Scout, Girl Scout, and town organizations for helping to develop environmental awareness in our young people.”
Nicholas Smaldone’s Earth Day essay 2019:
An experience or place in Westborough
There is a place near my home where I go constantly to be close with nature. Throughout the year, I find myself exploring the woods behind my house and behind Hundreds Road in Westborough. There, there is a small stream that cuts into a hill creating a steep descent down into it. The water flows down and goes under the road down the hill. There are many trees and open spaces surrounding the stream and old rock walls that date back generations. When I first go out every year during the spring after the long winter, it is like going there for the first time because it has changed so much: new trees have fallen creating bridges along the stream, new plants have sprung up, and the unfrozen river has carved a new path. Sitting and listening to the water flow always calms me down after a long day in school. When summer comes, everything is in full bloom and I feel like Indiana Jones traversing the jungle as I attempt to get to my special spot. Through copious amounts of thorns, poison ivy, bugs, and sweat, I make the trek, and it all becomes worth it when I get to be there with nature. When the fall comes it's a little easier to get there, as I try to savor it up before winter comes. As nature runs its course, winter is always welcomed for me. When it is finally over, I sometimes believe that there is a special kind of sadness that seems to come with spring.
I walk along the rushing water and appreciate all of its beauty. However, I am saddened to see the occasional piece of trash. I always pick it up to try to preserve my special spot and make it look better for the next time I come.
However, as I have grown older and learned more about the world, this stream behind my house has become more and more significant. Growing up, I always took advantage of the natural beauty and resources located there. However, as I grew older, I began to find that these resources, most importantly water, were not a fact of life for everyone. My world grew as I started to learn about different countries across the globe. I learned about how water dictates life, but in some places it is not readily available. I read about Cape Town becoming the first major city to almost run out of water, how a drought lead Syrians off their farms and into the city creating open spaces for ISIS to thrive, and that a major reason girls can’t attend schools in Africa is because they must spend the majority of their day fetching water. I began to realize how lucky I was to have a water source that is not used for drinking but only for its serenity and beauty, and even then, it is polluted by people who don’t care. I immediately became more focused on creating a more sustainable world.
Entering my junior year, with our ideas of creating a sustainable world, three friends and I created a UNICEF club at Westborough High. Throughout the year, we fundraised and spread awareness of issues that children face around the world. March became our water month; we held special education campaigns and even a ‘water walk’ to symbolize the distances people must travel in developing countries for water. In the fall of my senior year, I was able to interview a Sudanese refugee who has since returned to South Sudan to create a school with wells on site so students could attend school and not spend all day walking to get water.
Today, when I return to my special place behind my house, I see it in a different light. I see the beauty of the natural world, but also that not everyone can benefit equally from that. But I am also hopeful, whether I am picking up a plastic bag or counting money from a fundraiser to help a child across the world, that today’s generation is working to secure a better and more sustainable tomorrow for the rest of the Earth.
Mary McCormack’s Earth Day essay 2019:
An environmental issue in Westborough
Water pollution has been an issue in all areas of the globe for ages and there is little change in sight. Simple actions can deeply affect local water supplies and these actions need to be discouraged. Simply negligent actions such as dumping material into storm drains negatively affects the already low water supply in the town of Westborough. Because of our small reservoir and the ever-growing population of Westborough, the town has already been looking elsewhere for sources of water. However, if any sources are contaminated due to the activities stated above, our efforts to find more sources of water become even more challenging. There are only so many wells that can be built in our small town, and we need to preserve the resources we already have.
On a small scale, I tackled the issue of water pollution in Westborough for my Girl Scout Silver Award project in partnership with the Department of Public Works. In an attempt to educate the town regarding water pollution, I painted warnings on the town’s storm drains, created a public service announcement that aired on Westborough TV, and presented at the local library. What I found most alarming throughout my project, was the number of people who referred to storm drains as sewers when they could not be more different. The sewer system has no connection with our water supply, however, the storm drains lead directly to it. This ignorance regarding the storm drain system has led to many people dumping material into them, which harms our water supply. Contaminated water could sicken many people and closing the source would lead to drought.
To try to deter people from doing this, I spray painted little fish designs next to many storm drains all across town with the words “No Dumping,” followed by where the drain water’s final destination is. To my surprise, the storm drains lead to locations all across Westborough including ponds and streams. This means that in addition to harming our water supply, dumping material into storm drains harms the wildlife living in and around bodies of water. This became the topic of my video that aired on Westborough TV. I wanted the town to understand the many consequences of dumping materials into our local storm drain system. The act not only affects us, but many other organisms which can harm the town’s ecosystem for years to come.
Ultimately, the issue of water pollution and contamination means a lot to me. It would hurt me to see the local bodies of water harmed as I have such fond memories related to them; I learned to swim at Lake Chauncy and participated in the Civic Club fishing challenge at Sandra Pond. This became the inspiration for my Silver Award Project, and I remain deeply troubled by the issue. The way we are living and acting now is unsustainable and something must be changed quickly. Although climate change has dominated in the news, water contamination is equally frightening. Even in the town of Westborough, water source contamination could have devastating and everlasting effects.