For grad’s legacy, a little rain (garden) has fallen

By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

Bristol Eastern High School’s class of 2019 will be moving on to the next chapter of their lives, but one student has left behind an environmentally friendly legacy.

Taylor Domingue, the 2019 valedictorian, recently completed an internship with the Pequabuck River Watershed Association, which culminated in the installation of a rain garden on the BEHS campus.

PRWA president Mary Rydingsward explained rain gardens are designed to clean stormwater, making them especially useful in urban areas. The rain garden does so by “removing the storm water from the storm water system,” and infiltrating the water into the ground.

“It feels really satisfying because after working like two years it’s coming to fruition,” said Domingue. “It’s crazy, you know? It’s like this huge, beautiful garden now and a year ago it was just dirt, you know? It really feels good inside to see it.”

Domingue said the process began by presenting the project to several groups including the city’s Water Department, Public Works Department, and the city engineering department to name a few. From there, Domingue began sharing information about the garden with public.

“I think it’s a learning kind of thing, it’s not just a garden. The garden is meant to reduce the pollution from the parking lot when the pollutants come into the garden when it rains, with the rain water,” said Domingue. “I think it’s really important for people to know that about the garden, not just like, oh it’s pretty, pretty plants – it’s not just a regular garden because it’s important to spread awareness about the problem of water pollution, especially nowadays with climate change and all of these environmental issues.”

Once permission was granted to begin excavating on school property, it came down to timing when to plant the garden.

Inside the rain garden you can find blueberry bushes, butterfly bushes and rock perches for the butterflies to rest, azaleas, Black-Eyed Susans, echinacea, and more. All of the plants included in the garden are perennial, meaning that they will continue to grow each year after being dormant during the winter.

And while Domingue will be heading to the University of Connecticut in the fall to study molecular and cell biology on a pre-medical track, the rain garden will continue to be included in the BEHS curriculum for years to come.

During her time at Eastern, the valedictorian took Elizabeth Dilernia’s AP Environmental Science course. It was through Dilernia that Domingue learned about the internship opportunity with the PRWA.

“When I found out that she [Domingue] was working with Mary and the Pequabuck River Watershed Association, and then I found out what project she was working on, I was so proud of her,” said Dilernia. “It just all fits into what we were learning about, and it’s just what you dream for, for your students, that they’re going to take what they’re learning in the classroom and actually apply those skills and those concepts to the community. For her it was a learning experience but it was also giving back to her community because that rain garden does amazing things for the local environment.”

During the unveiling, Rydingsward presented certificates of appreciation to Domingue, Charlie Spoto, Raymond Rogozinski, Christopher Wilson and the Bristol Board of Education, Marisa Calvi-Rogers, Dilernia and the Bristol Eastern High School volunteers who will continue the garden, and the Farmington River Watershed Association, which recently concluded construction of Bristol’s first rain garden in Page Park.

Bristol Eastern staff and students in conjunction with the Farmington Rivershed, Pequabuck River Association, the City of Bristol and D’Amato Construction all worked together to excavate the land and plant a rain garden at Bristol Eastern High School that helps to reduce pollution. From the left, Board of Education chair Chris Wilson, superintendent of public works Ray Rogozinski, Charlie Soto, Bristol Eastern Assistant Principal Michael Higgins, Enivronmental Science teacher Elizabeth Dilernia, Aimee Petras of Farmington Rivershed Association, and Class of 2019 valedictorian Taylor Domingue, who spearheaded the project, and Mary Rydingsward of the Pequabuck River Association. JANELLE MORELLI PHOTO