A lot of tilling, weeding and planting gets done when individuals and organizations join together to spruce up Deer Creek Elementary's entrance
by: Barbara Sherman, HARD WORK — Emma Ginther-Reboja, Art Rutkin, Bill McKee and Jennifer Ginther-Reboja till soil at Deer Creek

Students heading back to school at Deer Creek Elementary on April 14 were welcomed by a big surprise - new plants and trees growing at the school entrance as well as two other areas in the front of the school.

On the first really warm day of the year - April 11 - a group of eager volunteers gathered at Deer Creek to dig dirt, weed, hoe, amend the soil and plant shrubs, trees and flowers to beautify the grounds.

Citizen Participation Organization 4K (King City) spearheaded the effort, but it was a communitywide effort, with kids, parents, Scouts, CPO members, King City Police Chief Chuck Fessler and Tigard-Tualatin School Board member Art Rutkin plus Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue Capt. Troy Spisla and his crew on hand for the big job.

According to Kathy Stallkamp, who is chairwoman of both CPO 4K and the Deer Creek PSO, the CPO was one of several to successfully apply for a $416 grant, and it chose to improve the Deer Creek landscaping for its project.

"We were going to put the money toward the (King City Station 35) firefighters' flagpole project, but if that didn't work out, we would do the school instead," Stallkamp said.

A group that included Stallkamp and Deer Creek Principal Vanessa Bunker met to plan the three landscaped areas, and CPO members, including Master Gardener Bill McKee and his wife Marion, reviewed the plans.

"Gardener's Choice really worked with us," Stallkamp said. "We took in our drawing and list of plant selections, and they made a few changes and recommendations. And they gave us a great deal."

On the day designated for the planting, Girl Scout Troop 2075 members showed up to first pick up litter around the school before helping with the planting effort.

"The firefighters and the police chief are so supportive of our efforts," Stallkamp said. "We promoted this through the CPO and school newsletters. We chose a day when there was no school so the kids could help, and we wouldn't distract students.

"I think it's really cool for the firefighters, the chief of police, parents and Scouts to show up. I liked that there was a variety of people involved."

McKee pointed out that Deer Creek is a center point for the community, and "the school district doesn't have a lot of money for landscaping."

The first order of business was to remove plants that could be replanted, weed the three areas and add enhancements to the soil which has a lot of clay.

"It's hard work to turn over that soil, but when we turned the fire crew loose, they did it in 20 minutes," McKee said.

While the project took several hours, the results were well worth the hard work. The soil was amended, everything got planted, the weeds and debris were hauled away, and the sidewalks were swept clean.

"I have to get a couple annuals," Stallkamp said later in the afternoon.

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