A Press Release from Newark Unified School District:
NEWARK - Students, teachers and staff did a double take when they arrived at the main entrance to Newark Memorial High last week.
Gone were a few scraggly bushes, and in their place was a newly landscaped rock garden commemorating the students who died while enrolled in the school.
"Thanks to Cargill, garden designer Tina Delucchi and the efforts of our maintenance staff, we now have a quiet and beautiful place where we remember those we have lost," said Supt. Dave Marken, who participated in a Saturday morning volunteer effort to renovate and re-plant three garden areas on the campus.
Not only was a new student memorial garden created at the school entrance but a nearby employee memorial was re-planted, while inside the school gates, a large informal walkway at the entrance surrounding the career (counseling) center was re-landscaped.
"Our Cargill Cares team was glad for this opportunity to make an improvement at Newark Memorial," said Bret Schuttpelz, Cargill refinery manager. "We care about Newark students and their learning environment. We believe students value their high school experience more if the setting reflects good community values. Improving the memorial garden was one way to help."
On Oct. 20, seven members of the Cargill Cares team — a committee of employees who volunteer at four or more community projects each year — gathered at the school to work. They were met by Tonya Connolly, maintenance supervisor for the District and Delucchi. For three hours, together they raked weeded, picked up trash, spread new gravel pathways, and planted flowers and shrubs.
When the job was done, more than 2,000 square feet adjoining the library/counseling center was re-landscaped.
"We give all the credit to the spirit that makes great communities,” said Marken. “Our maintenance staff pitched in on overtime — and did all the heavy lifting (literally). Under Ms. Connolly's direction, they moved the memorial rocks and some very large and heavy concrete planters. We couldn't have done this job without them.
"We also are deeply indebted to Tina Delucchi Landscape and Garden Design of Fremont. She and her staff did a fabulous job — on a pro bono basis — and arranged a nice discount from Regan Nursery for the materials. But, of course, most of the credit goes to Cargill which initiated the project, purchased the materials and supplied most of the volunteer labor.
"This was a truly successful project," said Delucchi. "We had a lot of constraints: limited hours to prepare the site and do the plantings, a limited budget, and plants and walkways that could tolerate not only drought and wind – but also teenagers!
“It all worked together, I think because of the generosity of spirit that everyone shared. It was truly a joy."
Editor's note: This report was lightly edited for AP Style.