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High school students plant new life in Balboa Park to commemorate birthday of Kate Sessions

New trees take root beside the Fleet Science Center on the birthday of the "mother of Balboa Park," with help from SDG&E and Forever Balboa Park.

SAN DIEGO — Students from High Tech High spent the morning planting new trees in Balboa Park on Friday, November 5 with help from San Diego Gas & Electric and the organization Forever Balboa Park. The planting landed close to the birthday of Kate Sessions, widely known as the "mother of Balboa Park."

Switching out textbooks for shovels and dirt -- the students from High Tech High took a hands-on approach to learning.

“This is a place where humans congregate but also there’s a biological community and we were part of putting it here," said John Santos, an environmental and biological science teacher at High Tech High. "It's so inspiring to me.”

The supplies were provided through a partnership with San Diego Gas and Electric and the organization Forever Balboa Park.

“All the trees that we enjoy were planted by Kate Sessions," said SDG&E arborist and Utility Forester, Jimmy Web. "We’re always planting and supporting the next generation.”

“This 1,200-acre park is a place for people to get away and appreciate nature and step away from the hustle and bustle of the city," said Jacqueline Higgins, Director of Planning Design & Programs for Forever Balboa Park.

Across those 1,200 acres are more than 15,000 trees with each tree absorbing storm runoff, providing food and shade, and reducing pollution. Many of the arborists and teachers that News 8 spoke with had stories of their own, noting how many memories they have from the park, dating back decades. Now, high school students can return for decades to come, to see their own impact on one of the largest urban parks in the country.

"In three to five years, you’ll have a tree that's six to eight feet tall and bearing some fruit," noted Webb, of the pomegranate saplings being distributed on Friday and Saturday. SDG&E also hopes to expand their program to the public in the future by providing trees people can plant to add to the shade around their home and reduce their carbon footprint.

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