For Jacksonville University student Andrew Soloway, Feb. 24 was all about cleaning up “our house.”
The senior in economics /business administration was out on the St. Johns River shoreline with fellow rowing team members, picking up trash as part of the annual JU Spring Spruce-Up.
“This is about the whole school coming together,” the Varsity coxswain said as a stiff breeze blew in. “This is like cleaning our home court. The baseball team makes sure its facility is clean, and we want to be sure we keep our facility clean. And we have the largest one. The river.”
Several hundred students, faculty and staff took part in the seventh annual Spruce-Up, designed to landscape and boost the look of the campus grounds. Participants were treated to a lunch of hamburgers and hotdogs, and prizes were raffled off as well.
Among other things, a new JU monument was erected on a new base, areas were re-sodded and shrubs were planted across campus.
“It’s great when the students, faculty and staff work side by side like this. It’s a totally different experience for them,” said Derek Hall, vice president of university relations. “And it gives a sense of ownership for the campus as you spend time working on it. There’s more buy-in.”
Jena Suffel, a JU athletic trainer for women’s basketball and cheerleading who came on board in August, said part of the day was about building teamwork.
“If you take part in it you feel you’re a part of campus,” she said after helping mulch sign areas around the grounds. “And anytime you do work outside of practice, it’s another way to help teammates bond. It helps you learn to work together.”
Christie Charlebois, freshman in biomedical engineering and a Tri Delta sorority member, liked the camaraderie that built as she and her sisters helped plant 25 shrubs.
“People were cracking a lot of jokes,” she said. “We even got to know some of the maintenance staff -- the guys were taking pics with us and throwing up our sorority signs. They were making jokes about the movie ‘Holes,’ digging those holes. So I felt good to have met someone new here.”
Ben Hayes, junior in finance/accounting and also a Varsity coxswain, felt good just to help protect the planet.
“It’s great to be outside in the breeze, and keep the earth clean, especially the river,” said Hayes, who along with Soloway picked up plastic bags and cups from the shoreline, pieces of wood with rusty nails in them and even a trailer wheel.