Red Mountain grad cultivates a lesson in environmental stewardship
July 23, 2018
By Laurie Struna, Mesa Public Schools
Nestled on a corner of the Red Mountain High School campus is the KinderU playground. Preschoolers enjoy playing on the grass turf, which is all thanks to forward-thinking 2018 graduate Lexy McConaghie.
At the beginning of the school year, students in Shane Bycott’s Advanced Placement environmental science class were challenged to “Change the World” through a service project. McConaghie chose to put her talents toward improving the young learners’ playground.
“Lexy took this project to heart,” Bycott shared. “It wasn’t just green sod vs. brown grass. She modified the overall structure of the area, making a big impact on our campus.”
Sharon Pratt, who directs Red Mountain High’s KinderU program, was thrilled to have McConaghie’s help in improving her students’ experiences.
“The revival of the grass adds a natural play surface that makes our outdoor experiences much better,” she said.
To get started on the project, McConaghie constructed a plan that put her organizational skills into high gear.
“I thought this project would take me a month,” she said with a laugh. “I learned a big project is a lot more work than you think. It takes many people and good management skills.”
McConaghie reached out to Silverado Enterprises Inc. to ask for a soil donation for the project. Then she called on friends and members of the National Honor Society to prepare the area.
“It took two days to distribute the dirt,“ McConaghie said. “Once the truck dumped the soil, we took it by wheelbarrow to the playground and used shovels to level the field.”
The Mesa Public Schools operations ground crew assessed drainage issues and installed the sod, which was donated by West Coast Turf. The grounds team modified and replaced sprinkler heads to create better drainage and give the grass an optimal environment to thrive.
McConaghie admitted there were a few snags along the way, such as when the sod installation had to be rescheduled twice due to the school closures from the #RedforEd walkout.
“The heat exposure and sod’s short shelf life required immediate installation,” she shared. “But it all came together in the end.”
This fall, McConaghie will attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, to major in entrepreneurial management. However, her presence will be felt for years to come at Red Mountain High School, especially among the excited KinderU students. One preschooler summed it up when she said, “I just love the smell of grass!”
KinderU is available at multiple district locations. Learn more at mpsaz.org/kinderu.