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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Construction Management students put their backs into it for school

December 18, 2014

SJVC Ontario Construction Management students give their time to help local schoolConstruction Management (CM) instructor Andria Marrs first heard about the Monte Vista Elementary School makeover sponsored by United Way on Monday, Oct. 20th, and by 8:00 a.m. the following Saturday, five SJVC CM students and a faculty member were shovel-deep into the all-day project.

SJVC’s volunteers were assigned the quarter-acre school garden that was sadly neglected with overgrown vegetation and weeds, rotted garden boxes and broken tree limbs lying about.

“Bushes were so overgrown in the area’s breezeway that you couldn’t walk through it or even see the bench,” say CM student and SJVC team leader Daniel Dixon, who got there an hour early to get the layout of the land and figure out a game plan. “We wanted to make the area more accessible to the kids.”

Many volunteers, some from UPS, Target, architectural firms, university students and members of the general public, worked on murals, blacktop enhancements and general clean-up of the 700-student school. All wore T-shirts with “Live United” clearly declaring their purpose and teamwork.

SJVC’s Construction Management volunteers were: students Daniel Dixon (team leader), Anais Solano, Laura Casteneda, Ramiro Orozco and Cody Possehl, and CM instructor, Andria Marrs.

Bringing the garden back to life and beauty was back-breaking work. “We cleaned out all that was existing, did weed abatement, took out bushes and shrubs, repaired planter boxes, and then planted drought-resistant edible plants,” says Daniel. “We also made hand-painted signs for each class at the garden.”

“It was just really nice to see the hard work and dedication our students and other volunteers put in to help out the community,” says Andria Marrs.

The school’s makeover was kept a secret until the kids got to school the following Monday morning. Students were thrilled with their school’s transformation.

A note to United Way from 4th grader, Ariel, read: “Thank you for making our school beautiful and caring about us. You touched my heart. We love you.”

United Way’s Day of Giving drew a nice number of volunteers who were able to complete all they had hoped to for these deserving students. In a letter to volunteers, Gregory Bradbard, Inland Empire United Way’s President & CEO said, “You gave a gift not only of murals, a new garden and blacktop enhancements, but also one of hope and a daily message that they are cared about and can achieve their goals.”

There was another benefit that did not escape Daniel’s attention. “We wanted to go out there and help our local community,” he says. “Some of the students that volunteered didn’t have any work experience, so having this experience on their resume would really help a lot.”

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