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Charter Students Spread Sunshine At Oakdale CHS
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A senior at Oakdale Charter, Liam Caparros gets ready to transfer some flowers into the freshly prepared beds during a work day at the Center for Human Services. The school’s Interact Club has partnered with Oakdale Sunrise Rotary to create flower and vegetable gardens at the CHS location. Marg Jackson/The Leader

The planting beds are once again ready to produce some fresh fruit and vegetables at Oakdale Center for Human Services, thanks to members of the Oakdale Charter Interact Club and their partnership with Oakdale Sunrise Rotary.

“It’s important for the sense of community,” Oakdale Charter Teacher In Charge, Tim Parola said. “We are homeschool. Kids don’t really come here. They’re not here all the time.”

Parola shared Charter parent, Ray Caparros, first approached him about starting a club at the school just prior to the arrival of COVID. With everything essentially shut down during the pandemic, the partnership was put on hold, until this past fall.

“Ray is a doer,” Parola said. “He’s a real go getter. So, at the start of this school year, we got this started.”

With a student count of six strong to start, Parola shared the group meets once a month and gets to business.

“We’re really service based. Everything that we do, we want to do something for our community,” he shared.

To date the group has hosted sock drives, a few canned food collections, as well as a hygiene drive.

“The kids love it and not only do the kids love it, but our charter families really get behind us when we do a drive. We’ve been very fortunate that way,” Parola said of the school site involvement. “We’re super small, but we’re trying to make this sustainable and we’re trying to make it as inclusive as possible. We want kids to show up, we want kids to be a part of it.”

It was a tour of the Oakdale Center for Human Services, however, which brought the group to its recent project. According to Parola, during the visit they noticed the garden could use a little TLC.

Thanks in part to the prompting once again by Caparros, the work of Interact Club and the Sunrise Rotary, the project got underway.

Interact Club President, Zoie Fischer was able to secure all plants, tools, seeds and even a wheelbarrow donated by Oakdale Ace Hardware to utilize for the effort.

“Now they can form some bonds with other students, with the adults here,” Parola said of the club benefits. “There’s something internally that we get when we help others. The students start to feel that. They like feeling valued.”

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Oakdale Charter junior Zoie Fischer, president of the school’s Interact Club, works to prepare some beds for planting vegetables at the Center for Human Services in Oakdale as part of a club project. Marg Jackson/The Leader