Interact, horticultural clubs beautify the VHS campus

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VINELAND – At a steady pace, Oleh Chernenko swung a pickaxe to smash the rocky dirt along the East Chestnut Avenue entrance to Vineland High School.

He worked with determination, clearing land near the group’s training ground.

On a foggy morning, about 20 students gathered in front of their school on Thursday to work on a campus beautification project.

Rolling up their sleeves, they were quick to get their hands dirty, planting ornamental dune grass at every school entrance along Chestnut Avenue and Brewster Road.

“It’s new to me,” said Chernenko, learning gardening through hands-on experience. “It’s perfect.”

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Pupils, equipped with shovels, dispersed to plantations to improve the school’s lackluster landscaping, said Nico Gonzalez, who heard about the project during an accounting class.

Together with students Michael Maguire and Ryan McMahon, they planted blue dune grass and fountains. The finishing touch was a generous application of dark mulch.

A nearby hubcap was there by chance and was not intentionally part of the ambiance of the landscape, they said.

The school’s Interact club led the project, as did the school’s horticultural club, overseen by teachers Dave Orlandini, a special education teacher and John Procopio, a business education teacher. The school’s horticulture program is supported by the local Home Depot, Procopio said.

When VHS director Tom McCann suggested adding dune grass to campus, students embraced the project.

They had experience with dune grass after volunteering their time to group plantations on the shore, said Neha Ashraf, second vice president of Interact Club.

This school project was another community outreach opportunity, which is part of the group’s mission, she said.

Once the plants were all in place, the students visited each plant with a watering can.

Procopio urged them to be generous and to soak the roots.

“Make them happy,” he said.

Deborah M. Marko; (856) 563-5256; [email protected]


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