By Mary-Justine Lanyon
Each year, the members of the fifth-grade EarlyAct Club at Valley of Enchantment Elementary School choose a service project to do in the community of Crestline.
EarlyAct is sponsored by the Crestline-Lake Gregory Rotary Club, with clubs in the third, fourth and fifth grades at VOE. The clubs are run by the students, who elect officers and conduct meetings similar to regular Rotary club meetings.
This year, the fifth-graders chose to purchase and install DogiPots by the meadow at Lake Gregory. These dog waste disposal units offer bags and a trash receptacle. They also purchased trees to plant at Lake Gregory.
Brent Darling, the operations manager for Lake Gregory Co., helped the students dig the holes for the DogiPots and embed the posts in cement. Students Matthew Velasco and Lily Villarreal toted water in a bucket from the lake to use when they mixed the cement.
With the help of teachers Stephanie Plemons, the fifth-grade EarlyAct advisor, and Jessica Mazakas, the fourth-grade advisor, Matthew and Lily installed three DogiPots around the track that circles the meadow.
It was then on to planting trees – one Norway maple and two sugar maples – in the picnic area by the bait and tackle shop. Matthew and Lily were joined by fellow fifth-grade EarlyActers Sophia Bahena and Elisa Mondregon, as well as fourth-grade EarlyActer Joy Beitzel. First-graders Jane Beitzel and Emmarie Mondregon also helped.
Darling got the holes for the trees started with a gas-powered auger. The students then dug away at the hard ground with shovels while Rotarians Bill Mellinger and Stanley Oswalt used pickaxes to break up the soil. Sophia’s grandmother, Elvia Diaz, even took up the pickaxe.
The students also planted two pink dogwoods by the lake.
The EarlyActers raised the $800 they spent on the project in part by selling Valentine grams to their peers and selling cotton candy at the recent science night.
The fourth-grade EarlyAct Club, Mazakas said, will be sending money to pay for a cleft palate surgery and will also send money to Oduworo Village in Uganda, a Rotary project that began in 2007.