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Seven Bridges Students Tour School Construction

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Rather than let the noise of jackhammers and tractors disrupt his classroom, teacher Andy Sturm instead decided to integrate the construction from outside Seven Bridges Middle School into his lesson plan.

“Because of the project that was literally interrupting my classes, you gotta be creative,” said Sturm. “We started talking more about atmostpheric polution, which then lead to water polution discussion. Then it was just happenstance that [Assistant Principal Greg Stiefel] approached me and said we have this civil engineer who’s willing to do a presentation for your students.”

On Thursday, Sturm and another sixth-grade teacher brought in Kathleen Delfay, a civil engineer with KPGM, to explain to their students how the process of paving the school’s parking lots also affects water pollution.

“One of the first projects I was brought in on was trying to get your parking lot paved,” Delfay said to the students. “The Department of Environmental Protection puts regulations in place to protect their watershed, so anytime you want to pave, you have to treat all your water coming off your pavement.”

After a brief lecture, the classes toured the construction site to get a first-hand look at what Delfay and her construction crew have been working on. Delfay said to comply with the DEP’s regulations, multiple filtration systems were installed around the school.

“We not only have to treat the water once coming off the pavement, we have to treat it twice,” said Delfay. The first treatment is a dry swale, which runs around the paramater of the parking lot. The water that runs into the swale will then go into a sand filter at the bottom of the lot. She said the systems are meant to handle 3.1 inches of rain over a 24-hour period.

“Any rainfall that falls on your school is running down the driveway into the ponds across the street, down Seven Bridges Road in that stream, and ending up in the reservoir,” said Delfay. “So, of course the city’s concerned that you’re not adding any more polutants into the water.”

While his students may take home newfound knowledge about water polution and the school’s construction, Sturm also believes they got more out of the tour than just a lesson. “These kids’ kids, some of them will stick around,” he said. “They’ll come back and they’ll see it and everyone will just think it was always like this. And this way they get a little piece of history as they’re living it.”

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