Students dig in to save trees at high school

Thomas Garcia

Students at Tucumcari High School shoveled some dirt this week as construction on the new high school got under way.

Because several trees at the site would have to be removed for construction, the students and an Ag teacher set out on a plan to save them from the bulldozers.

“When I walked out here yesterday, I just knew they were going to remove those trees,” said Glenda Sours, Ag teacher. “They are such beautiful trees when they bloom and I just had to save them.”

Sours said that she approached school Superintendent Aaron McKinney on Wednesday about the possibility of saving the trees and moving them over to the Ag building.

McKinney joined in the plan and operated the back hoe on Thursday to dig holes for the trees that will be transplanted.

“The FFA is going to transplant the trees that were just going to be cut down in the construction,” McKinney said. “They are reusing materials from the existing school, in a way that will benefit it in the end.”

So far, four trees are getting a new homestead, and as constuction continues others may be re-sited, too, she said.

“Saving the trees can be very beneficial and energy efficient in the long run,” Sours said. “We have the opportunity to have the trees shade the building which will lower cooling cost. It also allows our horticulture students to participate in the replanting of the trees.”

Meanwhile, Pacheco’s Construction Co. had began part of the work in Phase 1 of the construction which included closing off part of the rear section of the high school and moving in heavy equipment on Tuesday, said Bob Welch, project estimator for Pacheco’s.

“What we are doing is a lot of the prep work for the site,” Welch said. “We are trying to complete the asphalt removal by Friday in order to begin tearing down part of the classrooms.

“We will lay gravel down instead of asphalt. They are planning on running underground utilities, which would force them to rip up any asphalt that we would lay.”

Pacheco’s was subcontracted by Greer Stafford, the schoool’s Albuquerque-based architect, McKinney said.

This part of phase 1 will cost $64,000, officials said. When completed in 2011, the project is expected to cost about $23 million.