Sonshine Christian School Adopts, Cleans Park

January 10, 2014 | Scott Steward

When Florence, Ore., opened the adoption process this summer for people and organizations to take on responsibility for cleaning and maintaining local parks, Sonshine Christian School responded, requesting “ownership” of Singing Pines Park's playground, parking lot and walking paths.

Every first Wednesday of the month since school began, students, faculty and several board members have taken more than an hour to make improvements and spruce up the park near Kingwood and 15th streets.

Each month students have combed the paths and the accessible underbrush, from Singing Pines to Miller Park, returning each time with bags and bags of garbage — mainly cans, bottles, clothing and remnants of fast-food meals.

In October 2013, Mark Durbin, Florence parks supervisor, delivered several cubic yards of sand to the area under the swings and climbing structure. Students came armed with rakes and shovels to level the ground and improve the look of and safety around the structure.

In November, students planted more than 100 flower bulbs around the park’s perimeter in hopes of brightening up the park this spring. Plans call for a paint job for the play structure this spring.

“We see this partnership with the city as a great fit for our school’s community — kids, playgrounds, community service — and can lead to real-life applications through the academic lessons we extrapolate out of it,” says Leisa Buller, Sonshine Christian School’s principal and teacher. “For example, an applied mathematics lesson could come from measuring the park and learning its square footage. Then we could calculate how many cubic yards it would take to resurface the play area in two inches of wood chips. We can learn how much paint it takes to cover the play structure, how much paint costs, how weather affects wood and paint, what colors are complimentary, and write a story about our experience. We’d cover math, economics, science, art and English composition all from one trip to the park.”

“Life principles, like community service, go hand-in-hand with rigorous academics. Learning to navigate the world with respect — toward others and for self — leads to confidence and higher academic achievement,” says Nathan Large, school board chairman and a former student of the school before it closed in the mid-1980s. “Much of that respect and confidence comes from the biblical principle of service over selfishness. It’s part of what we teach and why our students are doing well.”

Sonshine Christian School is open to all faiths and backgrounds for grades one to eight. It is a partner with Sonshine Kids Preschool and Childcare, a state-certified and DHS-approved program open to children ages three to six.

Both schools are accepting applications for the second half of the school year.

For more information about Sonshine Christian School, call 541-997-5909. For information on Sonshine Kids Preschool and Childcare, call 541-997-5025. Both schools are located at 4445 Highway 101 in Florence, inside the Florence Church.