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WISE Program Presentations Kick Off in Greenburgh Central

Woodlands High School senior Samantha Simpson with her project.
Woodlands High School senior Samantha Simpson with her project. Photo Credit: Contributed

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Woodlands High School senior Samantha Simpson kicked off the WISE season at the High School on Friday, with her culminating presentation about her passion for gardening and her work building gardens and beautifying the community.

Simpson, who will be heading off to college in the fall, kicked off the “WISE season” — the time of year when graduating seniors present their Woodlands Individualized Senior Experience in front of a panel of judges and a packed classroom. 

In a detailed Powerpoint presention, she explained that her foremost project was the formation of a gardening club at Woodlands, manned by classmates. 

Together, the club managed to transform the sprawling Woodlands and Warburg campus by planting annuals and perennials in key spots, once overgrown and unsightly. 

The students also planted a vegetable garden outside the high school.

Beyond the campus, Simpson partnered with the Juniper Hill Civic Association to hold a Clean-Up Day in April, in which volunteers including Woodlands Gardening Club members, pulled weeds, cut back overgrown vines, and collected stray golf balls from the nearby Metropolis Golf Club. 

Because of her efforts, Simpson was honored by the Greenburgh Town Board in June.

Her presentation and project was evaluated by a panel of judges – senior Katie Sims, former WISE student and RJ Bailey teacher Lendel Marshall, Greenburgh Director of Digital Learning, Systems and Accountability Rocco Varuolo, and WISE co-founder Andrew Courtney. 

Also in attendance at Simpson's presentation was WISE co-founder Vic Leviatin.

She auctioned off a handmade garden planter and donated the proceeds to the Woodland Gardening Club.

WISE was founded in 1972 at Woodlands High School in Greenburgh, N.Y. by a group of students, teachers, parents and community members in order to address the “senior slump” and to aid the transition of graduating seniors to life after high school.  This initial program was dubbed “Woodlands Individualized Senior Experience” or WISE.

Forty years after the first WISE program and 22 years after WISE Services began spreading the program beyond Woodlands, WISE programs are in place at 60 diverse public and private high schools nationwide with high school seniors of all ability levels participating each year. 

There are now more than 35,000 WISE graduates, ranging in age from 18 to 55.

To learn more, visit their website.