A successful, community effort was made by the Mineral County High School JAG (Jobs for American Graduates) classes in collaboration with the county fire department while winding down for their Thanksgiving break. Meeting in front of the old, empty Sixth Street School, students were handed work gloves, rakes, hoes and shovels as they began clearing the debris and tumbleweeds overgrown throughout the front of the property.
“What could’ve taken our three maintenance employees a week to accomplish, only took a day with all these JAG students coming together in a such a positive way, clearing up this eyesore,” Tom Gallegos, Maintenance Director stated.
Firefighters Shaun Harmon and Captain Robert Rosaschi were on hand with water hoses as they worked alongside the students, teaching several volunteers the art of a proper burn, using a torch and fire gear as protection. Ninth grader, Landon Scarlatta, stepped up to learn the torching methods of burning dry brush, which was raked into appropriate piles throughout the yard, using tenth-grade students Justin Morales and Peyton Isom. Ninth grade students, Glenn Reeves and Sky Lockwood, were assisting with the water hose, to assure a safe environment for everyone attending.
Student, Madison Carlson quoted, “Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better.” Her motivation was based on helping the earth and the Sixth Street School look better and be safer. She expressed her desire to see the front become a garden again, using volunteers and helping others see the environment improve. “I remember the garden and I took Yoga lessons in this building,” she shared.
The JAG Specialist, Amber Fitzer, who originally approached Gallegos for a class project, was the first to applaud the willingness of the students and their combined interest in accomplishing such a task on behalf of the town’s appearance.
“The students need to know what volunteering is all about, which includes their excitement of learning new skills in the process. Today, I have seen some kids understand the use of yard tools for the first time. The group had to figure out where to rake and how to arrange existing gravel. Also, while working within a previously landscaped area there were above-ground PVC pipes in their way, which brought in logic and skill. They had to troubleshoot, use common sense in creating burn piles in the safest spots, work as a team and even understand the dump trailer system,” Fitzer explained.
Among the dry brush and brittle weeds, there was trash in all sizes, which had to be separated for the dump run. Firefighters explained the risk of burning normal trash items, with precautions exercised using plastics and other chemically-based contaminants left on the property site.
Instructor Fitzer gave a shout-out to the Interim Fire Chief Vern Watson, for allowing the use of equipment and two firefighters for the safety of this project, as well as the use of school district tools and the staff assistance from within the school structure. Students Madison Carlson (ninth grade), Anthony Ramirez (senior), Jacob Durham (ninth grade) and junior year students, Jared Devon, Kaden Southerland and Trinity Isom were given a special acknowledgment for being the top workers of the day. “I had to call these students off task or they would’ve worked non-stop and never taken lunch or any breaks,” Fitzer admitted.
School employees donated bottled water for this event, with the hope that more community projects could be scheduled in the future.