Expanded Courtyard Garden Takes Root

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 By late spring or next fall, students will have another outdoor area in which to enjoy their lunch.

After the Garden Club and Green Club proposed extending the courtyard garden last year, they came up with a design, and presented it to Art Department Chairman Dan Whitely. Whitely refined it, and then a landscape architect created the final version.

The garden will feature four quadrants, each with its own theme reflecting an “international and inclusive focus,” Intervention Specialist Teacher Stacy Steggert said. The center will feature a 8-foot fountain, with cascading water.

Whitely wanted the design to be student-friendly, allowing students to walk through the area all year round and maintain it.

Principal Michael Griffith hopes that the learning garden “beautifies an underused area, creates an opportunity for educational experiences and allows students to go and sit out there and eat lunch.”

He anticipates that it will be seen as part of campus, so students could use it as they would any other outdoor area. He also envisions elementary school students visiting the garden to learn about the regions it represents.

Senior Jonah Weinstein chose the courtyard as his final project in order to become an Eagle Scout. Weinstein built a storage bench and small greenhouses, called coldframes, for the new courtyard.

Sophomore Lauren Jensen is among those who miss the grass, which was removed to start the project. “I look out into the courtyard in math class, and it’s really upsetting that it’s not there,” Jensen said.

The money for the new courtyard comes from six sources. The bulk of the cost belongs to the district, which paid $14,500 for the preparation of the ground for further construction. The project received a grant of $1,000 from the True Hero foundation, an organization that gives grants to causes that earn the most votes on its website. The rest of the money came from school clubs, private funds and the Parent Teacher Organization.

Griffith does not anticipate any inappropriate student actions in the garden area or fountain. “That’s always a concern, but I’ve always believed that when we’ve given our students nice things, they have not misused them,” Griffith said.

For $40, students will soon be able to purchase personalized bricks that will pave the garden’s walkways, Steggert explained in an email interview. The option will be open to the senior class before the end of the school year.

A version of this article appeared in print on 24 April 2012, on page 2 of The Shakerite.

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