A Thank You from the Lighthouse Project

BBHS Principal Mike Ghelber and students at Saturday's work party

Big Bear High School Principal Mike Ghelber simply wished that Big Bear High could “look like a school in the mountains.”  The barren land at the front of the campus was incongruous with the energy of the staff and students within, not to mention the forested surrounding areas.  With no funding coming in the foreseeable future, it seemed as though this might not change.  But the power of community came through on Saturday, April 17, as over 70 community volunteers descended upon those barren slopes to create a rock riverbed feature for a xericape that will soon grace the campus.
In Big Bear, it appears that our motto is: “Just say yes.”  I am always overwhelmed with the generosity and cooperation of our community.  For starters, Reverend Jean Sweet, the expertise and driving force behind the success of school vegetable gardens, created a design for the area.  The San Bernardino Forest Association (SBNFA) signed up immediately to help with labor, organization and coordination with the US Forest Service.  They recruited the help of J & J Restorations, experts in the field of native landscapes.  The Lighthouse Project recruited volunteers who worked diligently, harvesting rock from other parts of the campus to complete the rock riverbed.  The work crew started at 8:00 a.m. and, to the surprise of all involved, the feature was nearly complete by 3:00 p.m.  Big Bear High School students, who comprised about one third of the volunteer work force, were among the hardest working and most enthusiastic.  Many volunteers complimented them for their hard work and positive attitudes.  Parents, teachers, students, administrators, district staff, counselors, and a School Board member could be found maneuvering wheel barrows, wrestling with rocks and placing them with care in the riverbed.
A true hero in the project was Gary McCord of McCord’s Tractor Service.  When other resources fell through at the last minute, Gary didn’t hesitate to fill in.  He loaded, hauled and placed the beautiful boulders donated to the project, and in the process treated volunteers to a show of his finesse with a tractor.
While volunteers at the riverbed enjoyed a perfectly warm, sunny day, another small cadre diligently cleared mounds of snow from the garden beds at Big Bear Elementary School to prepare them for spring planting.
The next phase of the xeriscape project, which will take place in September, will include the planting of pine seedlings and native plants to complete the project.  When complete, the area will be maintained by Mother Nature and will require no watering or irrigation.
The satisfying end result of the volunteer day can be gazed upon for years to come, but those present would say that being involved in the spirit of that day, working hard for a good cause with delightful people of all ages, was the greatest gift.  The Lighthouse Project extends an enormous thank you to all of the volunteers involved, and especially Reverend Jean, the San Bernardino National Forest Association including Alison, Stacy, Marco, Joe, Monica and Diane, the US Forest Service, Principal Ghelber, Jerry Vantine and the City of Big Bear Lake, and our amazingly giving and caring community.  Please stay posted on future opportunities to experience a day of fun in the sun.  Volunteer to help with school vegetable gardens, including this year’s addition at Big Bear High School.  We are in wild anticipation of liberty and vegetables for all!

Beth Gardner
for The Lighthouse Project

Do-ers Reverend Jean Sweet and Beth Gardner were instrumental in the BBHS xeriscape project, as well as the Peace Gardens projects at BVUSD schools.

The next phase of the BBHS project, to include the planting of pine seedlings and native plants, continues in September. (All photos courtesy Patty Hafen)