Raising up the White River: How Youth Perceive the White River

“I don’t know much about the White River.” She absently looks around her Latin classroom. “But I want to be educated about our river.” 

Julia Beechler is a founding sophomore at Riverside High School (RHS). She is involved with the student council at RHS and is vehement about the health of communities within Indiana because she has lived in Indianapolis for all her life.

Indianapolis Classical Schools identifies Riverside High School as “a member of the Indianapolis Classical Schools network and the second campus of award-winning Herron High School. Riverside is a tuition-free, intentionally-diverse, public charter high school located on the near northwest side of downtown Indianapolis. Riverside currently serves nearly 300 freshman and sophomore students at its new permanent location in the historic former Heslar Naval Armory.” The Heslar Naval Armory was built in 1938 and sits on the White River at 3010 N White River Pkwy E Dr. and W 29th St.

One of Julia’s most beloved parts of attending RHS is the White River. She enjoys its proximity to the school and the natural environment around it, “I like the view and the birds that surround the school.” Her face changed from fondness to uneasiness as she began to describe her relationship to White River. She sat at the edge of her seat as distress consumed her voice and whispered, “The White River is not clean. I don’t think I could jump into the river because it has trash and waste in it.” Many citizens in Indiana have misconceptions about the White River, a fact that is being uncovered by the White River Vision Plan, especially around water quality. The plan is referred to as, “a joint effort to create an accessible, recreational, and cultural environment that encourages a unique sense of place for the community as a whole.”

There is still apprehension as Julia continues to express her worries about the White River. Julia wants people to have a greater opportunity to access the White River. She also believes that it should be a community effort to nurture the White River, “If you have time you should help the community and volunteer for organizations that are starting to try to renew the River.” She starts to settle back in her seat and look out the window where you can almost feel the river, “It would be weird without the River I cannot imagine Indianapolis life without it.” Julia embellishes on how important the White River is to Indiana and reiterates how the White River makes Indianapolis unique. How the ecosystem from the White River is crucial for Indiana wildlife. How it provides activities such as kayaking & canoeing and unifies the people of Indiana.

Julia states, “The White River makes Indiana special I hope other youth can become advocates for the River because rivers are a valuable part of our world.”

Angel Akinleye is a sophomore at Riverside High School. She is currently working to start an environmental club at RHS and continues to promote recycling, “I have a passion for the environment and want the world to be clean for everyone.” Before her endeavor in researching about the White River Angel had a general knowledge of the importance of the River. After speaking with students to convince them that the White River was a paramount part of the community she knew that students needed to be educated on current events that occur in their communities. Angel will continue to promote interaction with the white river by, tubing, enjoy nature, fitness,  dining, shopping, and group gatherings. Angel states, “Youth are 100% of our future we should take action in raising up the White River.”

Angel-Hannah Akinleye is endeavoring to make a positive impact in her community and on the world. Raised in Indianapolis Angel enjoys community service, spending time with the homeless, and children. Angel is the president of the sophomore class at Riverside High School. She is involved with the student council, the editor of the yearbook, the director of the journalism club, (awarded upcoming journalist award from Indiana University) and has attained academic honor roll. Angel outside of the classroom loves to write with Marian University social action writing group working to publish a book. She is a freelance photographer and journalist with published works. Angel works with Earth Charter Indiana to promote an environmentally sustainable environment. Angel is a pre-professional dancer traveling the country training with Iibada dance company, Indiana Ballet Conservatory, and Gregory Hancock Dance Theater. Angel-Hannah was chosen by the U.S State Department to be the 2019 Youth Ambassador and travel to Brazil due to her international diplomatic interest.