The campus of Ashland High School is a bit more beautiful this year thanks to the combined efforts of the last two senior classes.

The campus of Ashland High School is a bit more beautiful this year thanks to the combined efforts of the last two senior classes.

The classes donated an estimated $12,000 to turn a mound of dirt into a paved walkway with a stone water fountain and benches made of recycled material where students can congregate and added a large 'A' out of paving stones to a corner of the quad.

"That combination of two projects has really jazzed up our quad," said Principal Jeff Schlecht. "It used to be this huge mound. It was just ugly."

The project required removing more than 10 dump trucks full of dirt before any landscaping could begin. The senior class leadership worked with Leave Your Mark! in Phoenix, owned by former Ashland High School dean Pete Cislo to design the area. Graduates, younger students and parents all worked on the landscaping, and the project was finished just a week before school started.

"For me the school environment setting is so important," Cislo said. "It really reflects the mental state of what you're about, and to have a nice clean campus with water and recycled material, that's a win-win for everybody."

Former senior class president Andrew McAllister, who helped choose the fountain and led the decision to donate to the project for a second year, stopped by to visit Thursday before he heads off to college.

"I thought it was a good idea for us to pick something unique to our school because this is a good school and a special place I really care about," he said.

During lunch on Thursday, Aubrey Bauer used the spot as a quiet place to eat her lunch and study for an upcoming test.

"It was all right, but once they put the benches in, it was a lot nicer," she said.

Most senior classes decide to give a printer, a computer or other relatively small gift with the money they raise from school dances and save the rest for reunions, Schlecht said. The last two classes were atypical in their willingness to give to their younger classmates.

"I've never in my career seen this type of commitment to giving back to their school," Schlecht said. "It really is a testimony to the character of these kids."

Staff writer Julie French can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or jfrench@dailytidings.com.