Central High students refurbishing Shinzen Garden at Fresno's Woodward Park

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For months, students at Central High School West have been volunteering their time at Woodward Park, focusing on the Shinzen Garden. Then, several of them took a special interest in refurbishing an old tea house and soon they could be bringing it back to life for public.

Ravinder Kang is proud of the work she and other students from Central High School West have done to get the Shinzen Tea House looking like it's supposed to. The traditional Japanese structure was a gift from Fresno's sister city Kochi, Japan but it hasn't been used in roughly ten years. In that time it has fallen apart.

Sophomore Gabbi Micheli said, "It kind of just looked like this hut, you know, with branches and sticks and bamboo everywhere and it didn't nearly look what it looks like now."

The students from Central High School West's Interact Club are committed to fixing the tea house so it can open back up to the public again. One Saturday every month they spend hours here and document their progress.

Ravinder Kang, a senior in the club said, "We've done the staining on the wood and so it looks brand new and we've done the painting so it looks traditional."

The students also want it ready for when officials from Kochi, Japan visit Fresno in October to see the tea house they gave to the city. Still, there's a lot to be done.

Donna Schiefer, a teacher and advisor for the Interact Club Advisor, said, "There was drug use inside of the tea house, there were people living here for any given period of time and so there's graffiti inside, there's damage done inside."

To do that, they need to fix the traditional thatch roof that has slowly deteriorated. That repair, though, could cost up to $20,000. Students are hoping the community will step forward to help them fund the project. They've set up a GoFundMe account to raise the money, hoping to make it a proud part of Woodward Park's Japanese Gardens once again.

Micheli said, "We just really want this to look as good as possible and want them to know we want to preserve this history that's been staying here all these years."

Schiefer added, "As a teacher there is nothing more exciting than having your kids take on a project like this and really from start to finish. This is theirs."

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