Cumberland County College’s secret garden

img_0862Rachel DiMauro/ staff photographer

By AHMAD GRAVES-EL, Staff Writer

Beauty comes in many shapes, sizes and forms; it’s also in the eyes of the beholder. It is now time for students to behold the extraordinary beauty that surrounds us on our Cumberland County College campus.

Take off your blinders and open your eyes the next time you step on campus and observe the natural beauty that presents itself to us. When you enter our campus through the main entrance, you will be greeted by a dazzling display of multi-colored flowers arranged in a perfect pattern.

Walk by the Guaracini Performing Arts Center and cast your eyes on the colorful kaleidoscope of blooms aligned outside of the Luciano Theater. On your way to the Library, from the Academic Building, there’s a little section on campus aptly named, “The Grove,” which is home to a stunning array of trees, blossoms, bushes and grasses, that are pleasing to the eye and scintillating to the smell. “The Grove” and other landscaped parts of our campus are, in actuality, a gift from Nature; given to us by Mother Earth-yet even she needs assistance, at times, maintaining her alluring appearance.

This is where the campus ground crew, specifically Chris Hambleton and Andrew Ball come in.

Unbeknownst to many students, these are two of the men tasked with the responsibility of keeping our campus visually appealing.

These CCC graduates, also known as Grounds Keeper I, are similar to the surreptitious ninja; they are rarely seen, but their work is apparent. “We basically do the full landscape of what you see, and things that you don’t see,” Ball says. Some of the groundskeepers’ duties include cutting the grass, installing irrigation systems, renovating the grounds, seating (notice the benches), and removing hazardous trees for our safety. “We like to go in like Black Ops…” Hambleton quips, “…do our job and then we disappear, you don’t even know that we took down a tree.”

Since Hambleton and Ball are CCC alumni and have kept the grounds for a combined 15 years, they have a first-hand account of the campus’ evolution. “The Grove” used to be called “The Educational Garden.” That area was first maintained by students, but was eventually neglected, so Grounds Keeper I and crew were called to save the day. “It was an eyesore,” Hambleton divulges. “We came in, renovated it….cleared out…all the overgrowth, weeds, dead shrubs, dead trees.” They also “…added types of turf [on campus] so students can learn what kind of grass grows,” Hambleton adds. “We try to do our part by adding a little bit more education for the students.”

Humility warmly emanates from Hambleton and Ball, and they quietly note the people who respect the subtle changes of the campus landscape. “Time and time again we’ll hear from staff…they appreciate seeing the landscapes and how good the campus looks,” Ball declares. Students can show their appreciation for the groundskeeper’s work by soaking in the beauty that envelops us every time we step on campus.

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