OXFORD – A new downtown green space received a healthy landscape, just in time for the nice weather expected this summer, thanks to students at Oxford Regional Education Centre.
The students have had a significant role to play in bring the Heritage Square into existence. First drafting four designs proposals, students and the Town of Oxford worked together to turn the vacant lot where the former town hall sat at the corner of Rideau and Main Street into a large gazebo meeting space where entertainment, barbecues and much more can take place. In a joint effort to have the square ready for the summer, students from the Oxford school’s Landscaping-12 class, the town’s Public Works Dept., and the O2 – Options & Opportunities – program added the final touches to what the Town of Oxford, the schools Construction-10 and Home Trades-12 classes started in conjunction with the province’s Service Learning Week, which showcased the O2 students skills.
“Not every school has an O2 program,” Crystal Rushton, program facilitator for Oxford, said. “But those that do, it’s a three year commitment for students we recruit in Grade 9 for Grades 10 to 12, with three work placements of 100 unpaid hours in each placement.”
Businesses in Oxford and outside of the community offer the work placements for the students as they develop employable skills. Students also participate in excursions to universities and other worksites, and help out with projects like the Heritage Square.
“Because a lot of courses in school tie in to the workplace, they tie in to [helping out] today,” Rushton said.
Overseeing the work was OREC’s
Kendall Black, who led students through the designing of the square’s gazebo. With the support of the Town of Oxford students have taken the lead on building the centre. In total, including the cement foundation and cost of landscaping, Black says he estimates the project as a $15,000 investment in the downtown.