Neighbors at the lake

Student’s assignment will grow on in Lake Wylie

May 12, 2014 

River Hills Plantation in Lake Wylie received a new addition recently, thanks to Drew Tupper, 13, a seventh-grader at Oakwood Middle School.

As a part of an optional ecology assignment for his science class taught by Craig Elliot, Drew planted a dwarf evergreen tree near the parking area at South Point Park.

Drew chose the evergreen with the help of a Lowe’s Improvement - Lake Wylie employee who said it will thrive in this area. Drew volunteered to monitor the tree, and water and fertilize it as needed to help it grow to its expected height of 6 to 8 feet.

“My science teacher, Mr. Elliot, offered us very broad choices for this optional assignment,” Drew said, “however, I thought of actually planting the tree. I wanted to contribute something beautiful to the community, and a tree seemed fit because River Hills is a bird sanctuary.”

Because River Hills is a planned community with structured green spaces, Drew was required to work closely with the neighborhood’s general manager, Debbie Garbon, and maintenance supervisor, Rick Camden.

“Working with Debbie and Rick was one of the experiences I really enjoyed about this project,” Drew said. “Both were pleasantly surprised and very open to the idea of adding this tree to the landscape. They each went out of their way to make it successful.”

Gardening and nature is something Drew has always enjoyed, whether it is planting and working in the vegetable and herb garden he has with his mother, Angela, and brothers, Collin and Kyle, or helping with the bee farm with his dad, John Tupper.

“We’re super proud of him,” his mother said.

Being in nature helps Drew with his other hobby.

“What makes nature and our gardens extra special for me is my love of photography,” Drew says. “I regularly use natural scenes at home and other surrounding Lake Wylie scenery as subjects.”

Drew also has specific plans for the future.

“I plan to continue my love of capturing nature through photography. I am interested in attending the Governor’s School of the Arts and a collegiate plan. Currently, I am a school photographer at my middle school and would like to continue that throughout my school career as well.”

To view the tree that Drew planted, visit the common area near South Point Park beach. Maybe you will even catch Drew caring for his pet project.

Wendy Dimitri is a freelance writer in Lake Wylie. Email Neighbors at the Lake column ideas to

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