Small Town America...
Something permanent to return to.
Normally I don’t attend school events any longer unless they involve a grandchild and that would put me in a town other than Shrewsbury. Yet, when I received an email from our Honorable Mayor Donald Burden the night before the Dedication of the Rain Garden at the Shrewsbury Borough School, I thought, ‘Well, I can take some time out of the office, get some fresh air; what the heck.’ The day was also to mark a significant birthday for the Mayor so it would offer me an opportunity to wish him well.
I parked up from the school on Obre Place and, as I’m coming up on the school parking lot, out pops the Mayor himself and he joins me on the sidewalk. His enthusiasm over the event about to happen is infectious and by time we reach the site of the dedication, just to the east side of the turnabout, I’m up for the occasion myself.
Everyone is milling about; children are coming out of the school and getting in position for the dedication; refreshments are being setup for after the ceremony; proud parents of the MAST students who have created this Rain Garden with much toil and forethought are smiling and shaking hands as people congratulate them; school officials and honored guests are taking their seats; and Mrs. Sallyann Jauch, teacher and mentor to the 2010 – 2011 MAST students, is making sure everything is just right for the tribute.
I look over and notice, walking my way, Bob Wentway, Manager, and Ron Neis, newly appointed Working Foreman of the Department of Public Works. Greeting them I see a member of the Shrewsbury Police Department there to applaud his daughter, a member of MAST. Just as the program is about to begin I spot some of the staff from the Borough Hall. Representatives from the Environmental Commission, Shrewsbury Garden Club and the Master Gardeners of Monmouth County, all instrumental in this project, are seated in front as SBS Superintendent Brent MacConnell welcomes the crowd.
Now I’m pumped – this is great and the day is just gorgeous – a nice breeze and the sun is aglow. Mrs. Jauch comes to the microphone and acknowledges her MAST Students – Mackenize Clark; Nicholas Fotopoulos; McKenna Gallagher; Holly Gwydir; Sam Kodama; Ellen McCarthy; Matthew Meyer; Elizabeth Paterno; Nicole Povey; Eric Pusterhofer; Natalie VanderVeer; and Robert Villaluz. She speaks of their hard work and dedication even in the brutal heat that came our way in the last few weeks. Noting that no one gets there alone Mrs. Jauch mentions Sickles Market and Ryser’s Landscape Supply for their assistance with the Rain Garden.
As the MAST students came to the microphone in pairs to thank those who aided them in this endeavor I found myself thinking of how connected this community is even with the diversity of the people present at this special event. When these ‘special times’ occur there is representation from all over town and everyone is proud, not only of the students who deserve the bulk of the credit, but proud of everyone who had a hand in the project.
A special presentation is given to Michael Tillet for his expert tutelage and heartfelt congratulations go to Thomas Matulewicz of the SBS for his relentless devotion to the MAST Students and the completion of the Rain Garden.
At the end of the festivities Mrs. Jauch called upon Superintendent MacConnell and Mayor Burden to cut the green ribbon (tied to two embedded shovels) at the entrance to the garden.
In addressing the MAST Students Mayor Burden reminded them that in addition to the environmental awareness that they implement and foster with the Rain Garden there is now, because of their hard work, something that will be permanent here at the Shrewsbury Borough School – something that, 50 years from now, they can return to and say, “See that bush there – see that plant over there – I planted them, I put those stones in place.”
Yep, that’s the way it is here in this little town of Shrewsbury, New Jersey. We can always come home and we will always know what it is to be a part of small town America.
C.M. McLoughlin, a writer and editor from New Jersey and New York, can be reached at email@example.com.