Nine weeks ago, Charles Garcia was a disengaged student, keeping to himself in the back of the classroom. But since breaking ground on his latest school project, the El Paso Academy West senior can be found wielding a sledgehammer or behind the wheel of a bulldozer in the school's new garden, where he often works with classmates until long after the sun sets.
"What it's going to be is a garden labyrinth that'll provide food for the homeless," he said as he tinkered with an electric chain saw on Saturday. "We're recycling everything, using local compost and supporting local businesses."
The maze is the initial phase of a complex two-year environmental project that will transform the vacant lot behind the 190-student charter school into an elaborate 1.25-acre community garden and outdoor classroom, complete with garden beds, a chicken coop, a human sundial, a compost area and a keyhole garden.