Tech students spike and dig to bring summer fun to their school

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:16

    SPARTA-As temperatures drop and winter sets in, many teenagers begin counting down the days until they're back on the beach. Those lazy days of summer are easy to imagine for the horticulture students at Sussex Technical School n they're spending part of the fall and winter months building a beach volleyball court, which will open in the spring. The sand court will be part of Sussex Tech's Student Center and its recreation program, and will also be used by physical education classes and possibly intramural sports at the school. Horticulture students started measuring and planning the project several weeks ago and last week broke ground in a big way n with a backhoe making the first dig. Horticulture instructor Paul Stanziale said between 15 and 20 students will work on the project on and off throughout the fall and winter. Work will depend on weather conditions and the availability of equipment. The project should be completed by spring, Stanziale said. Horticulture students, who also maintain all the athletic fields at the Sussex Tech campus, will handle the entire project, Stanziale said. "They'll do 100 percent of it," he said. The project is a good hands-on lesson in the planning and measuring involved in a landscape construction project, he said. And it's not as easy as it may seem. Although the land appears flat, it actually has a 3-foot slope, which presented an additional obstacle for the students, Stanziale explained. The students had to use a transit, a surveying tool that reads elevation, and calculate how much soil they had to remove and add in order to level the surface to build the volleyball court. In addition, students will dig a 3-foot deep base and install a drainage system. The court will be built on a layer of stone and 18 inches of sand. The volleyball net poles will be cemented in. "It's a lot of physical work," Stanziale said. Suzanne Sarner, director of the Student Center, said a beach volleyball court has been on the school's wish list for about two years. This year the project was approved and funded through Student Center funding resources. The court will be open to the entire student body and plans are in the works to start an intramural beach volleyball program and possibly a student-faculty game to kick off the spring opening of the court. Sussex Tech's horticulture curriculum includes landscape design, turf management, plant science and landscape construction. Some of the hands-on projects include maintaining the football field, soccer fields and baseball diamonds on Sussex Tech's campus.