By Mary O’KEEFE
Mountain Avenue Elementary parents and kids took time out of their Saturday to plant flowers and pull weeds, and dust some ash off trees, for the school’s Beautification Day.
“I may not have a green thumb but I love to come and help,” said Amanda Bova’s mom Sarah.
Amanda was busy with fellow first graders clearing weeds and moving rocks in the front of the school.
Fifth-grader Joseph Martinez was busy raking along the school’s kindergarten walkway.
“I just like helping my school,” he said.
Second graders Ally Bell and Anika Erickson were also rolling up their sleeves to plant flowers and made certain the watering was done just right.
“And I like it because we get donuts and can wander around the school,” Ally said.
Donuts may have enticed the future gardeners to initially come along with mom and dad but it wasn’t what kept them there or what made them work so hard. There was a real sense of school spirit and ownership of their campus that could be felt by watching the gardeners tend to their plants.
Beautification Day is a long standing tradition at Mountain Avenue that is sponsored by the school’s PTA. Sandy Russell, PTA president, said this volunteer driven event is held twice a year.
“Kids really work hard when they are here,” she said.
That was evident when first-grader Andrew Kim pulled on his gardening gloves and immediately went to work.
“Look at Andrew. He is such a hard worker and he knows exactly what to do,” Russell said.
She added that the gardening by parents and students gives the school a personal touch.
“It gives our campus more of a backyard look. And it’s nice to see families come out and support the day,” she said.
Karen Tyler is the chair of the event. She said the landscaping around the school is a big job and for families to help maintain it is a way to give the district staff a helping hand. The turnout had been a concern for Tyler this year since the school went from paper notification to web, but she was happy that many families came out in force to help and hopes more will volunteer with their next event in the spring.
Her son Brett had moved on to Rosemont Middle School but still came back to help in what has now become a family tradition.
Tyler remembered when she first arrived at the school and came to the event.
“Mrs. Simmons [former kindergarten teacher] was here to greet us and was so excited,” she recalled.
The day had many families volunteering back then, and Tyler hopes to build a large team of gardeners to help for the Spring Beautification Day. In the meantime, when those kids that were there on Saturday walk through their campus and see the flowers and the neatly maintained grounds they will know that they did their part to help make their school’s garden grow.