Laurel Oaks students pitch in at parks


Laurel Oaks students Logan Murphy, left, of Leesburg and Mason Burchett of Hillsboro smooth out the slab for benches at the dog park. Both students also work in the masonry field and will return for their senior years at Laurel Oaks in the fall.

Students from a variety of programs at the Laurel Oaks Career Campus pitched in before the last day of school this spring to help prepare old and new Wilmington City Parks for their busiest time of the year and also constructed a sitting wall at the unfinished Xidas Park in downtown Wilmington.

“Our students worked hard and took ownership to give back to the community,” said Tricia Singer, a science instructor who helped coordinate some of the projects. “Educating our youth goes beyond the classroom in my opinion and this is a prime example.”

Singer said that in May, juniors from industrial diesel mechanics, automotive technology-mechanics, masonry, welding and CareerX Labs, along with some of their instructors, worked on a multitude of projects with Wilmington City Parks Director Lori Williams and her staff.

The students came from all of Laurel Oaks’ 10 feeder schools – Blanchester, Clinton-Massie, East Clinton, Leesburg Fairfield, Greenfield McClain, Hillsboro, Lynchburg-Clay, Miami Trace, Washington and Wilmington.

“One day we had over 50 students and staff members working,” Singer said. “Students replaced broken or faulty hardware on the wooden playground (at J.W. Denver Williams Jr. Memorial Park), leveled land and spread mulch in the same playground, ran weed eaters, dug a decent size hole to hook up the water in the (new) dog park (at Denver Williams Park), and removed low limbs and brush from the entrance to a trail next to the dog park.”

Much of the work focused on getting the dog park ready for its recent opening.

“Students and staff put down cement slabs for future benches and one of our staff members brought in his own Bobcat to haul heavy limbs, logs, mulch, and the like to and from different areas of the park, Singer said. “We painted trash cans, cut out puppy paw designs for stencils for the trash cans, sanded picnic tables and painted them, removed many buckets of trash from the pond and creek area, spread more mulch in flower beds and around trees, created two new flower beds in front of the entrance to the dog park, and maybe more that I am forgetting.”

Williams agreed with Singer’s recap. “The work on the wooden playground was invaluable,” Williams said. “They tightened up bolts, every fastener, replaced screws and some wood pieces that were gone – they checked everything. It was really labor intensive and they even paid for the mulch. It was not Banana Split Festival ready because of safety, but they helped us identify some issues and got it ready.”

Xidas Park is under development at the corner of South South Street and West Sugartree Street.

“We had initially planned to go very simple there and picked out some benches, but the master gardeners came up with a design and the masonry students from Laurel Oaks built the seat walls,” Williams said. “It was a real world project for the students that was very detailed.”

The Laurel Oaks students are done there, but eventually light posts will be added, along with a steel pergola and more landscaping, Williams said.

Submitted by Dana Dunn of Ace Communication Enterprises.

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