On the level at Lambert’s Cove

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It was a sun’s out, shoes off, shades-on kind of morning, as 17 students from MVRHS took on the labor-intensive task of leveling the sloping entrance of Lambert’s Cove beach — essentially priming the sandy hill before boardwalk installation. It was part of the second annual school-wide Islanders Give Back Day.

“This is grading 101,” said Mike Turnell, owner of Indigo Farm, and one of the supervisors of the site. The group was a mix of freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, English language learners, teachers, and supervisors.

“We got to pick our own site,” said junior Amelia Craig. “This was my first choice.”

It was mine, too. There were more than 60 sites to choose from for Islanders Give Back Day. Each student got a free T-shirt. The mild, warm, morning weather called for light jackets and barefeet.

Nico Arroyo raked the sand downward, as another student shoveled it into a yellow wheelbarrow, for Felipe Pereira to haul and tip at the base of the sloping hill for another group of students to rake. “I didn’t realize how heavy sand is,” Junior Avalon Weiland said, rake in hand. “I’m going to sleep well tonight.”

“The string is the guide,” Turnell said, explaining the lime twine tied from one post to another, hovering about a foot above the ground. “It’s all about making the slope less steep.”

West Tisbury Parks and Recreation supervises Lambert’s Cove Beach. Before use of Bobcats were banned, they utilized the heavy machinery to push the dune back. Now, they rely on manual labor.  

“When [the school] asked us for a project, we thought, let’s see if we can try to level this land,” said Peggy Stone, board administrator of West Tisbury Parks and Recreation. “We want to bring it back to a place where it’s safe so people don’t slip and fall.”

Junior Vivian Surprenant repaired the wooden fencing that lines the entrance — tucking the pointy wires in so no one catches a sharp end. Fellow students helped her steady the posts and tie together loose board.

A handful of early morning beach-goers thanked volunteers as they passed through the student assembly line. They worked from 9 am to 12 pm.

“Back at the school there will be games and a barbeque,” said teacher and volunteer Rachel Schubert. “It’s a celebration. We don’t all have to go back to class at the end of the day.”