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It started out as the annual spring barbecue for the Pion Elementary Arbor Day but when the event concluded, much more was accomplished than just eating lunch.
Melanie McKinley, of the Pion Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization, said in addition to the barbecue, which Cub Scout Pack 326 cooked, students and about 60 parents got their hands dirty and the campus beautiful.
Sixth-graders constructed 22 planter barrels using materials such as empty milk jugs and landscape materials. The planter barrels are self-watering and water-efficient; McKinley said plants only need water about once a week.
The whole school got involved in other activities such as planting 10 trees, which were purchased through a $770 grant from Keep New Mexico Beautiful.
McKinley said the grant is really appreciated because the elementary school playground was “seriously lacking in shade.”
She said the school is also grateful to Sandoval Excavating, which dug out holes for the trees. If it were not for Sandoval Excavating, McKinley said, everyone would still be digging.
In addition to planting, students pulled out sandpaper and sanded down wooden benches and the wooden amphitheater in preparation for re-staining and picked out rocks from the lawn to diminish any chances of projectile rocks when the grass is mowed.
The work students and parents did create more than just a change in the campus; it impacted the students, too, McKinley said.
“It was so neat to hear the kids (say) ee ‘We really made a difference, didn’t we,’” she said.
McKinley said the work couldn’t have been completed successfully without the parents’ help. “We had so many projects that we could have done with out the parents,” she said.
This also affected the students. “For the kids to see everybody getting together and working toward a common goal gives them a sense of community,” McKinley said.
She added the work also gave students a sense of ownership in their school. They can take pride in Pion.
These are accomplishments that the school staff would like to continue to achieve. McKinley said they would like to make the barbecue and campus cleanup an annual tradition. Additionally, work is being done to create a 10-year plan in the fall.