by Lisa Tome
Janine Antoshak never has to doubt she made a difference.
Every work day Antoshak, who is a clerk with the Town of Charlestown, gets to see the capstone project which she completed with her Cecil County Watershed Steward Academy partner, John Gonzalez.
Long before her project got underway, Antoshak noted standing water on blacktop at Charlestown Elementary School daily as she drove by the school on her way to work. The standing water had been a nuisance for years, interfering with the school's recess. Gonzalez, who is an engineer, designed a project which would redirect the standing water. Antoshak created a rain garden in addition to mitigating the water.
"It was a large, deep puddle on the playground," said Antoshak.
The school will not only benefit because recess is now standing water free. The rain garden will improve water quality and also is a beautification project at the school.
Antoshak explained that one of the focuses of the Watershed Steward Academy is education. Students from the school helped plant more than 200 native plants in the rain garden. Early on in the project, Charlestown fifth graders also helped with soil borings.
"Initially, we thought we could divert the water," said Antoshak. But the scope of the project grew over time. By the end, elbow pipe, and a drain which collects the water had to be installed. The water now goes into the rain garden. It was more than three days work plus the planning and preparation.
"It was a really big capstone project. We had a lot of help. The county supported us, the academy supported us, and the town supported us," said Antoshak. Charlestown's Green Team also provided support. She said that school custodian George Whisner and head custodian Sam Gonce also helped greatly.
Antoshak signed on as a student in the Watershed Steward Academy in the fall of 2015 and graduated in December 2016. The capstone project was the culmination of what she learned. She said she initially signed on with the academy after her work with the town sparked her interest. "I wanted to know how to make water cleaner and better," said Antoshak. "
"The puddle hasn't been there (at Charlestown Elementary) for a long time now. And it's great seeing the plants there," she said. "The best thing was seeing the kids and they each got to plant at least one plant. It was worth all the work."
The project will also be maintained by Antoshak and Gonzalez.