ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ – Go Green! is the theme at the Atlantic Highlands Elementary School. Volunteers from the community spent their Saturday morning planting hardy perennials in front of the school on First Avenue.
Volunteers lay out plants according to the landscape design.
Heidi Hackett, a parent and member of the PTO was walking past the school last year and observed the “Keep off the Grass” signs that dotted the barren terrain in front of the school. The area has been plagued with erosion problems for many years. She knew the PTO was looking for a “big” project to get involved with, and she suggested landscaping. “It was a little acorn that has grown”, Hackett said of the project.
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Michelle Keough, chairwoman of Project Go Green said the group has worked for the last year to raise nearly $15,000 for the project: a 50/50 raffle, a chance auction which featured recycled materials, and more than 240 engraved bricks were sold for the Walk of Fame – a feature of the new landscape. Several businesses made donations or reduced the cost of their services and/or plants. Among them, said Keough, was Brock Farms, Casola Farms, Sickles, Jeff’s Lawn and Landscaping, Rysers Landscaping, Creative Environments Architects and Linwyck Gardens. Nearly thirty thousand dollars worth of material was planted.
Charlotte Dooley, 5, and a kindergartener at the school, digs a hold for planting while her sister looks on.
“It was intended to improve the aesthetics for the entire community and as a lesson about earth science, erosion and keeping it green.” Keough said. “A project like this would not be possible without the generosity of the council, the board of education, businesses, and members of the community who supported our fundraisers.”
Corrina Thuss, president of the local Parent Teacher Organization, said “This is such a great community. Even in hard (economic) times these people step up to the plate.”
Stephanie Ladiana said the group had the benefit of help from Master Gardeners through Rutgers University and Monmouth County programs. Three master gardeners were on hand to help with planting to the right depth and with the right mix of soils.
A new staircase was installed at the elementary school last week and will compliment the new landscape.
Nance Ciasca said, “As a business owner, it makes the entrance to town more beautiful.”
The school board hired an environmental landscape firm Moss-Gilday, Little Silver, to make the final plans for the layout to ensure that water migration and erosion do not become a problem.
The board completed last week the installation of new stairs at the main entrance to the school which enhances safety and improves the curbside appeal of the school.
“Pride in our community is nice to pass on to our kids,” said parent Jim Plumaker, a member of the planting party.