As spring is upon us, there is much green news to report. We have been active in the gardens where “many hands make light work.”
As the warm weather arrived this March, so did all the brightly colored daffodils and tulips planted around the schoolyard by the fifth and sixth graders. Last fall the students raised money to purchase the bulbs, so year after year we will all enjoy our spring walk into the school.
At the end of March, a group of students, parents, grandparents, faculty and staff worked together over several days to spruce up the courtyard. We removed debris, pruned bushes; and weeded the beds. The courtyard looks beautiful and students are enjoying having classes outside or just spending some quiet, working time in the sunshine.
Grandparents were on hand to help sixth graders plant summer bulbs in the courtyard area during the Middle School Grandfriends’ Day. Look for lilies to brighten up the courtyard in the early summer!
The native plants in the Butterfly Gardens by the Lower School entrance are already attracting pollinators with the early spring flowers. To enrich their classroom experiences of studying habitats and butterflies, the first and fifth graders will soon be adding annuals in the gardens to attract specific pollinators. The garden closest to Hillcrest Road will become a Monarch Waystation thanks to Ellie R.’12. Her senior project is to plant that area with native plants that will encourage the monarch to stop for a visit during their long migration.
The vegetable beds are ready to go! The fourth grade has planted spring veggies for a salad feast. They are learning about nutrition in their science class. Kerri Behmer will be helping the third graders plant vegetables for a fall harvest when they are fourth graders.
Just like the Native Americans of long ago, the kindergarteners will be planting a Three Sisters Garden of corn, beans and squash. The beans are to grow up the corn stalks and the squash keep down the weeds.
All the children in the pre-school and junior kindergarten classes will get to help create the sensory garden. They will be planting a rainbow and lots of fun plants to smell and touch! With the help of the fourth grade, the P-S students will also plant bluebells in the Habitat garden, so that as they move up through the school, they can look forward to their special plants being there every spring.
The Habitat site has been a busy area all spring. Our students now understand first hand about invasive species. The U.S. environmental class, the sixth grade, and many of the students in the After-School Program have been removing garlic mustard from the area so that the native plants may thrive. We will be planting flats of ferns, columbine, native pachysandra, and bluebells, along with other native plants, throughout the Habitat. The second grade will be planting flowers in the hosta area on the edge of the site.
The environmental class is working to make The Habitat a welcoming learning area. They are improving the paths and seating, making observation areas, as well natural play areas for the youngest of our students. One undertaking is to label the plants, and, for her senior project, Laura Stonerook will design a field guide for all the classes to use.
The MS and US Green Clubs will also have a hand in beautifying our schoolyard. There are plans for a perennial bed in the courtyard, flowers around the flagpoles, tomatoes and herbs in the vegetable beds, and sunflowers near the parking lot.
May will be a busy month outside in our gardens!
Another aspect of being a green school is for all of us to be aware of our carbon footprint. Working within their curriculum, in March, the fourth and seventh grade and the environmental class canvassed the school to monitor energy use. Rewards were given when vacated classroom had their lights out. Students were asked to think about the ways they conserve energy in their lives and then add their “action steps” to a communal bulletin board in the hallway. It was wonderful to see how many students took the time and care to reduce their energy use.