Greg Newton may have 'graduated' from seven years ago, but the 17-year-old has always had a special place in his heart for his former school.
Now, as he embarks on his final project as an Eagle Scout, Greg, a senior at , is giving back to the Central community that was not only his home from K-5th grade, but also to his sister Melissa and his brother Nick (currently a fifth grader).
Monday morning, in front of the entire Central community, Greg and teacher Cheryl Fong cut the blue and white ribbon to "Dolphin Parklet," a finished strip of a mini-park that borders the school and will be used for lunch time activity and a quiet place for teachers and students to enjoy one-to-one lunches.
As an Eagle Scout, the highest ranking for a Boy Scout, Greg explained that he was required to complete a major project that incorporated both his leadership abilities and his scouting values.
"I knew I wanted to help the Central community, so I came and talked to Mrs. McKenzie and Ms Fong," Greg explained.
Cori McKenzie, Central's principal, and Fong, a 4th/5th grade teacher, were quick to take Greg up on his offer and suggested a "parklet" or a mini-park that would accommodate students and teachers who wanted to eat their lunch in a quiet spot.
Greg's father, Jim Newton, explained some of the nuts and bolts that went into transforming the dirt and concrete area into a green zone with picnic benches and soft astro turf.
"When it came time for Greg to start the project, he asked Central families to donate, and he also asked for donations from Harbor Ready-Mix, and they responded by donating five yards of concrete and a truck to pour it," said Newton.
Greg was pleased with the monetary donations he received from Central parents, teachers and administrators.
"Central really responded. I put a basket in the front office and wrote a letter to all of the parents asking for their help." Greg estimates he received about $600 from the Central community.
Cheryl Fong also helped in the fundraising by offering up her own hair to the highest bidders.
She explained, "I was growing my hair out for Locks of Love, and auctioned off the cutting of my ponytail, twice, to the highest bidders, and the funds went to help develop the park."
Eight families donated $100 each to go in on cutting off Fong's ponytail.
The Dolphin Parklet was Fong's brainchild said McKenzie. Fong, who has taught at Central for 12 years said she wanted an inspirational place to sit with her students when they have their one-to-one lunches.
"I thought this would be good to develop a nicer place for those lunches," Fong said.
Of course there was lots of digging, earth-moving and concrete pouring and astro turf-laying to be done on such an endeavor, and Greg is quick to point out that he had a loyal group of student volunteers--boys and girls---including his brother Nick.
"My brother made it every single workday," said Greg. Other helpers were recognized by McKenzie with special citizenship pins that she handed out at Monday's ribbon cutting ceremony.
Future plans call for a park-themed mural to be painted on the gray wall behind the parklet.
Cori McKenzie addressed the students after the ribbon cutting, taking advantage of a teachable moment.
"This park would never have happened without Greg Newton," said McKenzie.
"So this is a reminder to all of you students--don't forget your elementary school. Greg is a senior, and going on to great things. This is a perfect example of teamwork and cooperation--which just happens to be our theme for the week."
Before dismissing the students, McKenzie said, "Can I get three hip-hip-hoorays for Greg and Ms Fong?" To which, the students loudly obliged.
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