Shirley Knopf still walks regularly past the school where she taught for 14 years. But this summer, she was starting to have trouble recognizing the front of it.
Hawes Elementary School, where Knopf taught computer classes until 1997, had become overgrown with tall weeds that nearly obscured the camellia trees around the main entrance. So Knopf, the vice president of the Huntington Beach Tree Society, got out her shovel and went to work enlisting the community.
"You couldn't even see the plants," Knopf said. "It was just a weed fest."
When students return to Hawes on Tuesday, they will find the weeds gone, mulch embedded and dozens of new trees and bushes around campus. Knopf, Hawes PTA President Miriam Lazur and her husband Andy spent the last three weeks working in the hot sun with gloves and shovels to make the school presentable for the new year.
Along the way, they had a few allies. A nearby resident donated $1,000 to the Tree Society to help start the project. A local Eagle Scout spruced up a corner of the parking lot with a bay laurel tree and lantana bushes, and planted nine eucalyptus trees in neighboring Hawes Park.