Catawba kids participate in service day

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Sam Liang, 12, and Femi Agabalogun, 11, work as part of the team to spread 10 yards of mulch to protect the nearly 60 native plants they planted earlier on Saturday, Sept. 29 at Alder Avenue Middle School.

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – Funded by their win in the Disney Planet Challenge last year, Alder Avenue Middle School students who participate in the Catawba Project here were hard at work on Saturday, Sept. 29, planting 60 native plants in the school’s courtyard as a way to help beautify the school as well as protect the local environment.

 Organized by Alder teacher John Jones, who is coordinator of the Catawba Project, approximately 20 kids, ranging from high school seniors to sixth graders, dug the holes, planted the shrubs and trees and spread 10 yards of mulch.


 According to seventh grader Rachel Roesch who drafted the press release on the event, the day was part of the Green Apple Day of Service, a worldwide event that is organized through the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council. The organization was just selected as one of the Clinton’s Global Initiatives for the year on Sept. 24.

 “For the Green Apple Day of Service, we will put more green into our Green Ribbon School,” Roesch wrote. “This is a great opportunity to make a beautiful outdoor courtyard that will make our schools healthier and raise awareness about our environment.”

 Jones said the funding for the plants, mulch and a pizza lunch for the volunteers was paid for in full from the $1,000 Disney Challenge award. To date, the Catawba Project, started under the direction of retired teacher Dave Crawford, has received more than $106,000 in grant funding and numerous awards.

Seventh graders Faith Hewitt, 12, left, and Erika Kacprzykowski, 13, take a break from their work planting plants in the courtyard of Alder Avenue Middle School on Saturday, Sept. 29.

Seated from left are Ben Caplan, 13, Curtis Wong and Nicholas Efstatos, both 12, as they enjoy a lunch break from the gardening. The pair said the plants they installed in Alder Avenue Middle School’s courtyard are native to the region, which means they will need no pesticides or fertilizers to grow, which in turn keeps the area watershed clean.

Alder Avenue Middle School teacher John Jones, center, demonstrates the technique for spreading mulch in the newly created beds on Saturday, Sept. 29.

Priya Parikh, 13, center works with her classmates on spreading the mulch.

The team of students, a few teachers and parents spread 10 yards of mulch and planted 60 native plants during the day.

The team of students, a few teachers and parents spread 10 yards of mulch and planted 60 native plants during the day.

Chris Baumgartel, 17, does the heavy lifting and pushes a wheelbarrow load full of mulch to the landscaping beds in Alder Avenue Middle School on Saturday, Sept. 29.

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