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Granite Hills receives support from Mojave Water Agency and Liberty Utilities for desert-friendly landscape

posted Jul 26, 2016, 3:25 PM by Kristin Hernandez   [ updated Sep 20, 2016, 11:18 AM ]
Mr. Martinez, Logan Martinez, Pamela Chaires, Rafael Velasco of Contemporary Landscape and Maintenance Inc., GHHS Principal Chuck McCall, and AVUSD Superintendent Tom Hoegerman
Granite Hills High School will receive $60,000 to go toward the new desert-friendly landscape throughout the school’s senior quad, thanks to community partners Mojave Water Agency (MWA) and Liberty Utilities. The project is expected to receive a $30,000 rebate from MWA’s Large Scale Cash for Grass and a $20,000 check under MWA’s Strategic Partners Program, as well as a $10,000 check from Liberty Utilities. The checks will be presented at an upcoming AVUSD board meeting on Aug. 4.   
New agricultural labs at Granite Hills High School.
“This conservation/education project is special.  Through a unique partnership among Mojave Water Agency, Granite Hills High School and Liberty Utilities, students will learn to save water, grow fresh produce at school, and then prepare meals with these vegetables and herbs in the culinary program,” MWA Board President Beverly Lowry said. “It’s like hitting a triple and winning the ball game!”

The GHHS Skills USA Community Service Team has spent the last two years working to raise awareness and support for the project, as well as to raise funds needed to turn the plan into a reality. Students Logan Martinez, Ray Cardenas and Brianna Pautz spent hours of their own time in GHHS teacher Pamela Chaires' class to design the landscape. Students submitted a variety of potential layouts to Rafael Velasco, landscaper and owner of Contemporary Landscape Incorporated. Velasco and his team of landscapers began the renovation in June 2016 and have since brought the final design to life. 

The landscape contains drought-resistant plants, artificial turf, decorative rocks, seating areas, a school/community garden, and five agricultural labs to be used to grow fresh produce and to be used in science, math, social science, bakery and culinary courses. Chaires said that the new labs will “enrich the classroom curriculum, develop real-world college and career technical skills and foster relationships among students and the community for a positive cause.”

New desert-friendly landscaping at Granite Hills High School.
According to Norma Armenta, Liberty Utilities Conservation Specialist, the drought-tolerant landscape is expected to save the campus an estimated 1.7 million gallons of water each year, which will benefit the local water supply and will allow the school to re-direct that portion of irrigation funds to education programs.  Chaires added that the newly landscaped area is expected to save the campus $9,690 per year in water costs. “This project is extra special because the new campus landscape was designed by a group of dedicated students, who are passionate about conservation,” Armenta said.

“We applaud Granite Hills High School and its students for their commitment to conservation,” Liberty Utilities Apple Valley Vice President and General Manager Tony Penna said. “Liberty Utilities was proud to help fund this project along with the Mojave Water Agency, and we hope this will inspire others in the community to consider converting their landscapes to be more water efficient.”

Chaires expressed her gratitude to Mojave Water Agency, Liberty Utilities, Rafael Velasco of Contemporary Landscape and Maintenance Inc., Mark Foster, GHHS Principal Chuck McCall, AVUSD Superintendent Tom Hoegerman, and Assistant Superintendent Matt Schulenberg for their support. “The level of commitment to this project by students, staff, administration and local industry has been overwhelming,” Chaires said. “Granite Hills High School will truly champion water sustainability in our community.”