Around 45 volunteer students gathered together April 25 at Palomar College during a cool, cloudy Friday morning to volunteer their time for the Office of Student Affairs’ annual “Project P” event held every school year.
The event is a tradition that dates back to the 1950s and involves ascending the steep, jagged path of Owen’s Peak to carry out the yearly renovation of the college’s famed landmark, the Palomar P.
The project was headed by Student Activities Coordinator Lindsay Kretchman and Jonnie Velasquez, Psychology major and liaison of Mission 2B Clean and Green, a program sponsored by the OSA.
“For me, this whole event is about service and teamwork,” Kretchman said. “I was really pleased that everyone jumped in, was hands on and participated.”
Volunteer students huffed it up the long, treacherous trail carrying rakes, shovels, five-gallon buckets, trash bags, water and fifty-pound bags of gypsum.
The trail to the Palomar P is such a sharp and rocky incline that many of the students were winded only a few hundred feet from the start.
“Hiking up the hill carrying that heavy bag of chalk on my back was definitely fun and challenging,” said first time volunteer Harry Gonzalez. “I sweat a lot.”
Once at the top, volunteers took a short break to absorb the breathtaking view of San Marcos before commencing in the day’s activities of clearing out overgrowth, trash and debris from the area.
Students were careful to find solid footing while working on the mountainside due to the sharp gradient, loose dirt and rock covering the landscape. In some instances students lost their footing.
“I slipped twice, but I got right back up,” said Dalia Montero, a student of the Registered Nurse Program.
Finally, a total of 16 bags of gypsum were spread across the area to help preserve the historic Palomar College landmark. Gypsum is a white, chalky substance, and is used in fertilizers, soil conditioners, plaster and mortar.
The event wrapped up well before noon, and volunteer students were treated to a lunch of pizza and soda on the Student Union Building patio afterward.
“We had a huge group of active participants,” Kretchman said. “I was really happy with the amount of volunteers that showed up on a Friday morning at 8:00 [a.m.] when they could be anywhere else.”
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