Lowe’s donated 230 bags of mulch, seven citrus trees, five vines and all the necessary tools to Peoria Unified School District.
As a 2009 Peoria High School graduate, Jared Biciolis wants the facility to be represented in the best possible light.
Now an agricultural education teacher at the school, Biciolis teamed with Lowe’s on 83rd Avenue and Thunderbird to finish the orchard that sits just west of the school’s administration building.
“There was always an older orchard space there since I was in high school,” Biciolis said. “I don’t know when they originally did it. We figured it would be cool, in talking with the students, to fill up that space and revitalize it. It’s such a central place on the campus, too. It’s a high-visibility area. The students thought that would be an awesome idea.”
As a part of its community service program, Lowe’s helped Peoria Unified School District’s oldest high school make its vision of the orchard come to life.
On the morning of Nov. 2, Lowe’s donated 230 bags of mulch, seven citrus trees (lemon, orange and mandarin), five vines and all the necessary tools. To finish the orchard, Lowe’s brought more than a dozen volunteers. Three more trees are coming in January.
“You plant citrus in November in Phoenix,” he said. “We’re planting apple, peach and plum trees in the beginning of the year.
“Then, it’ll end up with 12 full trees when it’s all said and done. The upperclassmen did a lot of the leg work to get it done with trenching and pipes. When Lowe’s came in and they offered, they finished it up. It’s definitely a cool project. I used it as a teaching tool.
“Having a citrus orchard is such an awesome thing for our students. I’ll be honest, agricultural education programs across Arizona train students to become production farmers, dairyman or ranchers.”
Biciolis said it was a joy to see his students revel in their project.
“As a teacher, it was incredible seeing so many students proud of something on their high school campus as the orchard was being completed. What is even better is knowing that this orchard will last for years to come and be used as both a focal point of scenery on campus along with an educational tool for future agriculture students. The cherry on top was that a few of the volunteers who helped with the orchard were former Peoria High students who spent their morning to give back to their alma mater. These are the types of things that make the agriculture science program, Peoria High School and our local community so special.
“It’s pretty awesome for us. The high school is old, but it needs some TLC sometimes.”