Zach Ogle works toward beautifying neglected courtyard for his senior project

by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: ROBIN JOHNSON - Zach Ogle, a senior at Scappoose High School, said in addition to moving forward with landscaping the other half of the school's courtyard, he plans on adding more plants to each existing plot.Zach Ogle, a senior at Scappoose High School, has been working throughout the school year to transform a courtyard located at the center of the high school from what was essentially a gravel pit into something more picturesque.

“My goal is to leave something behind,” Ogle says of the landscaping effort that will be his senior project.

Ogle, along with a handful of other students and school staff, have managed to cultivate a number of plots within half of the courtyard with various trees and shrubs donated by Means Nursery in Scappoose.

Ogle also plans to varnish benches that were donated last year for the courtyard.

The entire effort, Ogle says, was inspired by his drive to work with the land.

“I always liked working with my hands and I thought landscaping would make a good career,” he says. “What a better way to start than landscaping the courtyard.”

The courtyard had been described as an eye-sore by both former and current students, Ogle says.

“Will Kessi [vice chair of the Scappoose School District Board of Directors] said it was an eyesore when he was a student,” Ogle says. “I’m not gonna guess his age.”

Scappoose High School Principal Eric Clendenin also says the courtyard had previously been in a state of disrepair. “I’ve been here seven years and seven years it’s been an eyesore,” he says.

Half of the courtyard has been landscaped, but that’s only phase one of the project, Ogle says. With the help of the school’s leadership class, National Honor Society, a handful of other students and custodial and maintenance staff, Ogle hopes to move forward with improvements to the other half. By the end of the school year, Ogle plans to install artificial turf in one section of the courtyard, as well as cover a bisecting walkway and, if everything works out, install a water feature.

While students, staff and administration are behind the project, the budget is getting tight. Ogle notes that the artificial turf is likely to cost more than $7,000.

“The leadership class, over the past five years, raised $5,500,” he says. “This side [phase one] cost about $3,600.”

Ogle says the feedback he has received on the effort has been considerable, even with only half the courtyard improved.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback. A lot of staff have commented,” he says.

The courtyard is used by students consistently throughout the year, rain or shine, Ogle points out.

“Even when it’s crappy, students want to hang out there every day,” he says.

After graduating this year, Ogle plans on earning an associates degree in machine technology from Portland Community College, then hopes to join the U.S. Coast Guard. He was also recognized as Rotary Student of the Month in December.

Ogle says he is always looking for volunteers and donations for the project. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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