Independence High School students are breathing new life into old neighborhoods this week by planting trees.

Students dug holes and planted saplings Monday morning in the southwest Provo area known as Town Hall Neighbors Together, or TNT. They are also to plant trees immediately north in the Dixon-Timpanogos neighborhood Tuesday and Wednesday. Some 300 flowering plums, golden rain trees, mulberrys, maples and lindens will be put into the ground during the three-day project.Two Boy Scouts, Troy McDonald and Mike Williams, contacted homeowners and marked planting spots on parking strips the past few weeks as an Eagle Scout project.

Nancy Hugo, who lives near the alternative high school at 35O W. 500 South, said trees are essential to keep the neighborhood viable. "We're at the point that if we don't strengthen, we're going to die," she said. Over the past few years, residents have fixed up and painted dilapidated houses, repaired sidewalks and requested street lights from the city.

"It's the perfect marriage of a neighborhood need and a student group coming together," Raylene Ireland, administrative assistant to Mayor Joe Jenkins, said of the tree planting project. The city paid for the trees using about $9,000 in community development block grant funds.

Principal Greg Hudnall said community service is an important part of education at the alternative school. All students are required to put in 10 service hours to graduate. Past Independence High service projects include making quilts for Primary Children's Hospital and feeding the homeless.

"This is just as good as a classroom," Hudnall said Monday morning. Planting trees teaches teenagers team concepts, how to work with adults and helps students become part of the community, he said.

Students welcomed the chance to get out of class to plant saplings, not only because it was fun, but because they said it helps the environment.