The Bronxville School recently hosted a free screening of the documentary, “A River Returns, a History of the Bronx River,” which features interviews from science teacher Justine McClellan and her students.
The documentary, which was directed by Lesley Topping and produced by the Scarsdale Historical Society, explores the river’s history and efforts by river advocates and communities in Westchester and the Bronx to protect their local river. It also documents the efforts of four Bronxville High School students who have tested the water quality and conducted research in their classrooms on the amount of pollution in the river. In the film, Topping interviewed the students, as well as McClellan, who was a pioneer in the development of the district’s work on the Bronx River.
“The Bronxville students featured in the film discuss research which builds off of four years of data collected by students and classes before them,” McClellan said. “It is their sincere hope that the findings of their research will enlighten the community regarding the impact of sewers and storm drain run-off on the Bronx River. They hope to work with local officials to address sources of pollution and seek long term solutions.”
Five years ago, McClellan advised two high school students as part of an independent-study research project on the Bronx River. Since then, the independent research has turned into a yearlong Bronx River Research course with a growing number of students each year. As a result of the program and through their research, McClellan and her students have assisted river advocates in major cleanup efforts.
The river continues to be cared for through an alliance of private and government groups, as well as the efforts of volunteers, students, educators and environmentalists.
Following the screening, seventh graders and high school students engaged in a Q&A session with the experts, a local historian and film director.
"I am grateful to the Scarsdale Historical Society for the production of this film which powerfully connects the past to the present environmental movement around the Bronx River,” McClellan said. “Taking the time to interview students and include them in the film empowers not only the students featured, but also gives voice to young people in general who are taking leadership roles in addressing environmental injustice in their communities. My hope is that the seventh graders watching the film connected the importance of their field work in the Bronx River to a larger movement."