Garden managers plant beautification


Daksha Chandragiri

The Beautification Committee works together to pull weeds out of Cal High’s old garden.

Students have formed an initiative to take care of Cal High’s environment by beautifying campus through plant-based initiatives like hydroponics, composting, and gardening.
Cal’s Beautification Committee is encouraging students to help enlighten the school by becoming Garden Managers, who will lead this gardening initiative.
The project was inspired by junior Jackson Konkle, who is a co-founder of the Beautification Committee and the Class of 2024 vice president. The committee received funding to help the environment from the school’s administration.
“We need to do more things to make the campus more beautiful,” Principal Demetrius Ball said. “We can make things happen.”
The Beautification Committee first started off as a club based around gardening and overall enhancing the school to be more pretty.
The Committee has a project to revive the old Cal garden between the fine arts building and the band room with a mural and more plants for the garden. As the budget for supplies needed to revive the garden came in, the committee also needed volunteers.
Sophomore Suhaila Julka is the other co-founder of the club. Julka found inspiration for the project while walking by and being near the area of the old garden frequently.
“The idea of beautifying the garden came up when me and Jackson were in band, and were constantly in the area of the garden and it just looked very bleak and even our band director commented on how awful it looked and we started to think what we could do to improve it,” sophomore Suhaila Julka said.
An email was sent out to students to apply and interview for the position a month ago.
“I’m interested in seeing who else at this school is interested in improving the environment and caring for our campus,” Konkle said.
Konkle said the committee was initially a club for gardening and that he and Julka recruited juniors Julian Rosso, Bella Grima and Amane Amber Lee. He said while the club was separate from the garden manager applications, it ties into his goal of improving the garden.

One of the committee’s project ideas was redesigning the mural to advertise the garden and provide more positivity to Cal.

“We kind of wanted it [the mural] to be a symbol of the school,” Lee said. Lee will be leading the painting of the mural. “We wanted it for students to take pictures. We wanted it to be those walls where you can pose there and something that students can get along and know about and bring together the school pride.”

The committee has ideas of drawing a grizzly bear gardening for the mural to show the school’s grizzly spirit. They planned on building this mural near the garden by the fine arts building in the band room.

“After we are done with this project, we definitely plan on doing more artwork on lockers and school hallways to spread awareness of issues as positive propaganda,” Lee said.

While the team can’t plant vegetables because of the risk of pests, they’ve come up with other solutions to improve the environment at Cal like hydroponic systems and plant greenery around the school and advertise the project with the art.

“I spoke to some of the science teachers and I tried to get a feel for what a hydroponic system would be like, so to find a team to price it out and find a location on or off campus to meet our needs to grow vegetables,” Konkle said.

The hydroponic systems would have hoses pumped to water flowers such as poppies and winter jasmine to help make peace with the school’s depressing appearance, Julka added.

“We started this idea last year, we had a group of teachers be our advisers as a club idea,” Konkle said. “It evolved as the fall came around to be working with the administration instead because they’d be better with helping with funding and covering our costs. We didn’t want students covering, instead it’s coming from the site budget.”

Administrators have helped the students since the garden is under the jurisdiction of the school. The club had struggled with getting help initially as former vice principal Tucker Farrar did not respond to their requests.

The garden manager applicants so far have included students who have had experience with gardening, worked at summer programs and colleges testing soil, and studied hydroponics.

“I think they’d [garden managers] would be great leaders for little groups for each subject,” Konkle said. “Our school is pretty bland and mundane. I think that planting is just a way to soothe people and be more environmentally conscious.”