South Orange Middle Students, Staff and Parents Clean Up
Volunteers, staff and students begin first phase of clean up for the courtyard at South Orange Middle School.
Armed with shovels, rakes, compost bags and clippers, South Orange Middle School staff, parents, students and other volunteers came out Saturday morning to participate in the school’s Courtyard Cleanup.
“We have this amazing space that has been neglected over the years,” said Kara Erhamza, who is in charge of beautification for the town’s Home School Association (HSA). “We want to turn it into a living classroom that will be used for classes, concerts, theatre and poetry slams.”
The effort will be a multi-phased project. Saturday’s goal was to trim down overgrown bushes and limbs, toss out debris and dig out an old fish pond filled with dirt and rocks. “Today, we’re cleaning it up and seeing what we can use,” Erhamza continued. “The next phase will be donations and landscaping. We hope to get places like Home Depot involved. We want to make this a space the community can have pride in.”
In addition to the pond, the courtyard contains an unused amphitheatre and former greenhouse. While cleaning, staff uncovered several old sculptures that will most likely be salvaged for use in the completed space. A target date is still being discussed.
Principal Joseph Uglialoro, who was hired this past June, has been a driving force in the project. “When I did my initial walk-through of the school before becoming principal,” he explained, “I said that this area needs to become a defining point of the school. I thought it could be a resource for the kids and teachers to use in an exciting way.” At that time, he met with members of the HSA who expressed their wish to do something with the space. “We all want this to be the pride of South Orange Middle School and for the community. This is just the beginning.”