Fort Rucker Soldiers, students beautify Northview campus
Front to back, WO1s Mike Holland, Tom Bottini and Ryan Wullschleger remove old brush and make room for new plants and trees at Northview High School in Dothan.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Gloomy weather couldn't stop a group of determined Soldiers and students at Northview High School in Dothan May 1.

After being postponed for a week due to heavy rain, a group of warrant officers from Fort Rucker and the Student Government Association of Northview High School got to work beautifying the campus as part of the Spirit of Service project.

From one side of the campus to another, the flight school class of about 20 could be seen painting, clearing old shrubbery, planting new trees and bushes and placing railroad ties along sidewalks.

"The idea is to help make the campus more beautiful and welcoming," Warrant Officer 1 Chris Scharff, a North Carolina native and the class projects officer, said. "We're all big believers in helping the community we're stationed in and this was a great opportunity to do something good."

According to Scharff, none of the Soldiers present are originally from Alabama. However, all take pride in the places they call "home," even if it is temporary.

"It's good to give back," WO1 Jason Zylstra, the secondary class projects officer, said. "We're all very appreciative of the communities we've lived in and this is our way of saying 'thank you' to all the people who've supported us and made us feel welcomed."

Principal Ron Snell also felt moved by the contribution from the warrant officers.

"We ought to be going to (Fort) Rucker to help them," Snell said. "They've sacrificed so much for all of us and we owe them a great deal. They're a great bunch of guys and it's so awesome to see them out here helping us."

SGA President John Connor Dykes was both surprised and impressed with the group of warrant officers.

"They're all really nice," Dykes said. "As soon as they got here, they started working hard. We're really happy they decided to come out and help us."

Some school administrators were also on hand to help out with the beautification project. They were also impressed by the level of commitment from the students and Soldiers.

"It's awesome to see them working together," Jacquelyn Ates, Parental Involvement Specialist, said. "With all the support from (the Soldiers), students and (area businesses) we've been able to get a lot done."

According to Ates, businesses around the area also supported the project by donating several hundred dollars worth of supplies.

"We've had great community support," Ates said. "Whether it was in materials or just in financial contributions, the community has really come out to help us."

Snell said that ultimately, the project is about the children.

"All of the kids who showed up have worked hard and they've all done a really great job," he said. "It's always great to see groups of people come together like this."

Page last updated Fri May 7th, 2010 at 11:43