Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 20, 2017

Garden of learning

By Xiomara Levsen | Jun 24, 2014
Workers install the base area that will become a garden complete with a waterfall in the former Washington Junior High wing of Washington High School. The company that designed the water fountains at the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort designed the Washington High School waterfall.

When students return to school at Washington High School next fall, their garden will have a new addition.
Construction has begun on a waterfall in the indoor garden area, which was made possible through donations and grant money, said Robin Flattery, English teacher and member of the garden committee.
“It’s got a steel frame and then it’s got plywood backing on either side,” Flattery said. “Then there will be slate tile that gets laid on top of it and then copper header for the reservoir.”
After the waterfall is completed the next step for the garden committee will be to bring in soil to get the garden area ground level, Flattery said. The garden committee at the high school includes Flattery, Tammy Schultz, Anne Pisarik, Erin Riley, Erik Buccholz, and Cindy Kennedy.
Plants will mostly be in pots around the area for easier maintenance.
“It’s something that we can repot once a year and take care of it because the issue before was a lack of maintenance,” Flattery said. “What happened was that this garden was put in the late ‘70s or ‘80s and it wasn’t maintained at all, so over the years water came in through various places and it could never dry out, and that’s what caused the mold—it could never dry out.”
In the past, mulch kept being put on top of the area, eventually leading to a foot and a half that had to be dug out by teachers and volunteers because it was too hazardous for students to do, Flattery said.
Throughout the process of renovating the garden at the high school, the committee has had a lot of support from the public, Flattery said.
“The six of us are the main core and then we’ve had people who have just walked up and said ‘anything you need, I will help, I will be here,’ ” she said.
Joe Pisarek, Jim Kennedy, and Lynn Loula all came to help the committee dig out the mulch, Flattery said.
“It will make it look so much nicer and help our side of the school kind of match the new side of school,” she said.
Washington High School Principal Erik Buchholz is also excited about the future of the garden area.
“If we get the utilization out of it I think we’re going to, I’m picturing kids at, say, prom time or graduation using it for their background for their pictures and stuff,” said Buchholz.
Also in the future for the garden area is to have some benches for seating and using the space for classes.
“We’re thinking about integrating classrooms as much as possible,” Flattery said. “We’ve been talking about vertical planters for herbs for the family consumer science classroom. We’ve talked about doing different horticulture displays for the horticulture program if Duane [Van Winkle, FFA teacher at the high school] wants to start that back up.”
Buchholz would like to have members of the public be able to see the garden and waterfall, as well.
“We would like to involve more open door for people in the public to come walk the halls and have a bench to rest and a place to relax and enjoy the scenery,” Buchholz said.
Another idea Flattery said the committee has is to use the space around the indoor garden area for displaying student artwork. Right now there isn’t a spot in the high school to display student artwork, so the idea is to have display cases installed on the west and east sides of the garden, are for this purpose.
“We’re trying to make it as inviting, welcoming, and useful as possible,” she said.
Another idea for part of the garden, to the right side of the waterfall, will include a spot to honor people who have donated money to the project, Flattery said. The Driscoll family is one example she gave. She said they donated a lot of money to the project in honor of their child to keep the fountain going.
Once the waterfall is completed and new soil is laid down, the garden committee will be out of money, Flattery said. They are looking for donations and other contributions to help finish the project. For more information about the indoor garden at the high school, contact the garden committee at 653-2143.

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