NORTH LIBERTY– Completed in 2006, North Central Junior High is getting a makeover thanks to numerous public and private partnerships.
Launched during its inaugural year by the school’s Parent Student Teacher Organization (PSTO), the school’s landscape got a big boost when McKenzie Wierda elected to take it on as an Eagle Scout project in 2011. He recruited nearly 50 scouts, school and church friends and their family members to help on consecutive Saturdays in May and June to make the improvements.
Wierda has been involved with numerous meetings throughout the year to coordinate the effort. “It wasn’t too difficult to recruit the volunteers,” he said, adding he knows he will be asked to help other scouts as they work to earn their Eagle Scout rank. Later this summer, Wierda will present a summary of his project to a scout council.
Principal Jane Fry is pleased with the school’s renovation. “North Central has been blessed with Eagle Scout projects in the past and McKenzie’s will fill a huge need. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect,” said Fry.
Jill Reece, PSTO co-chair along with Kaye Wierda, McKenzie’s mom, appreciates the community partnerships that are beautifying and improving the school’s entrance. “There are so many people to thank for their help and financial support,” Reece said.
The project to the building’s south entrance was so large it had to be implemented in phases. Phase 1 included planning and landscape design. Phase 2 added stamped concrete to enlarge the school’s front sidewalks and entrance providing much needed space for students to congregate while loading and unloading buses.
Phase 3, the actual planting, will also be completed in two stages. The majority of the perennial plants, approximately 550, were to be installed on Saturday, June 2, with the help of volunteers. An additional 200 bulbs and perennials will be planted this fall.
A $2,500 Home Depot grant matched by Project GREEN’s $2,500 contribution, along with $1,500 from PSTO and $1,000 from the North Central Student Congress, provided funds needed to design the area and launched many of the partnerships.
In addition to funds and volunteers, Country Landscape donated much needed equipment and staff to remove the worn sod, to enhance and prepare the soil for planting and to haul debris away.
Additionally, Home Depot will sent volunteers to help plant the perennials.
Others partnerships involved in the project include Confluence Landscape Design, Forever Green Nursery, River Products, Linn County REC and Trees Forever. Brian Downes, Braun Intertec and Larry Stevens Concrete also contributed to the project.
Kyle Hunter, Scoutmaster for Scout Troop 220 and Country Landscape employee, says McKenzie’s project is good for the school community and the entire North Liberty area. Hunter, who has a two-year old daughter, helped with the project along with Country Landscape volunteer crews who helped cut the sod and carted it away in wheelbarrows to a waiting dump truck also donated by Country Landscape.
Science teacher and faculty representative for the landscaping effort, Pat Witinok, Ph. D., is thrilled with Wierda’s effort. Years ago, the veteran teacher was involved in district’s improvement to Roosevelt ravine. “North Central’s landscape project is about family and community. It’s pretty awesome.”
Wierda, who will be a freshman this fall at West High, says the project is rewarding. As a part of the project, he will water the new landscape until school starts this fall. “It’s nice to give back to the school district. We have a good school and great teachers,” Wierda said.