- March 31, 2016
If you’ve driven by Lakeview Middle recently, you might have noticed the main entrance has gotten a facelift.
Thanks to local business partners, city and school staff — all eager to lend a helping hand — students in the school’s National Junior Honor Society and Beta Club have been able to get their hands dirty and make improvements to their school each month.
In November, at least 20 students from both organizations gathered at the entrance — along with school staff and both community and parent volunteers — to redo the landscaping in front of the sign.
“We are making our school look more presentable, planting plants and updating the campus,” said Emmalee Wilson, NJHS secretary. “Last month, we kind of went around the front, grabbed all the garbage and threw it away, and we planted mulch around all the trees. Right now, we’re planting flowers and plants around the sign, welcoming everyone.”
Tony Blair, a Winter Garden resident, got involved because his daughter, Presley, is the NJHS historian. Presley is in the eighth grade now, and Blair said for the last two years she has been at Lakeview, he has been advocating for school-cleanup projects.
“I live in Winter Garden, my daughter goes here, and I just want it to be a nice school,” Blair said. “This year, we were able to get with (former Orange County School Board member) Christine Moore to donate some money to the school budget for NJHS to beautify the school. I’ve been working with (Winter Garden Mayor) John Rees and (Winter Garden City Manager) Mike Bollhoefer on collaborating efforts to get plants and mulch and trees trimmed and things like that.”
One Wednesday a month, the students spend a couple of hours after school on different campus-improvement projects. They have picked up trash, helped with landscaping and assisted with trimming palm trees.
“Beautifying the campus means you’re very passionate about where you’re learning: You want to make a presentable, cleaner environment, rather than having dirt everywhere,” Presley Blair said.
As Principal Gracemarie Howland and Winter Garden City Commissioner Bob Buchanan watched the students pull weeds, grab shovels and place mulch with the help of adult volunteers, it gave them a sense of pride.
“It’s been quite a few years ago, but I can remember when I was at Colonial High School, and we did projects like this around campus,” Buchanan said. “It gave the kids a lot of pride, and to see the kids out here doing this just brings back memories of that. You did get a lot of pride in helping out around the school.”
“That’s exactly what we want — students to get involved in their school and take pride in their campus and help out with projects like this,” Howland said. “It makes me feel very proud of them, because … you want young people to take pride in their surroundings and their school and have ownership in their school. This is a beautiful campus, and it’s nice to see the children excited.”
Blair was grateful for each of the organizations and businesses that put time into helping the students bring this project to life.
REC Nursery donated plants; Central Florida Turf and Designs donated time, equipment and sod; Toole’s Ace Hardware donated mulch and equipment; Winter Garden Pizza Company donated pizza to feed the students after; and the city of Winter Garden sent out a water truck to water down the new landscaping.
“We just want to do what we can to help them, and they have pride in their school,” Blair said. “Doing these projects and picking up trash and things like that, hopefully (students) will look at that and think, ‘Hey, I did that.’ So hopefully, when they see other kids messing it up or throwing trash down, they’ll say something to them and take pride in it.”