Willow Hill Elementary held a meeting, titled "Green Summit" tonight in it's library to discuss the plan for a new garden.
The school was awarded a Lowe's Toolbox for Education Grant totaling $4,950. A Willow Hill family then matched the grant, donating $5,000. The funding will be used toward the expansion of literacy resources and library offerings, and toward building an outdoor garden just outside the library.
Maintenence personnel was at the meeting, providing insight into issues such as the needed drainage system (for water pouring off of the roof). Attendees split into two groups, brainstorming ideas for twenty minutes. The goal is to limit the garden to the end of the corridor for now, keep it easy to maintain, but build it to last for years to come.
Ideas tonight included: making the garden handicap accessible, creating mini habitats (shade vs sun growth), having enough room for an entire class to sit for a story, making a compost bed, creating a sensory area (wind chimes, fragrant flowers, spiky leaves), and having a shallow water feature. Many other ideas were shared, and the school encourages the community take part in contributing their thoughts.
The Willow Hill Principal, Colleen Smith, stated the kids "will discover that learning doesn't just take place in the classroom, learning takes place anywhere they are and that learning is coming from within them. And having the opportunity to experience outside the classroom in a garden setting- whether you're reading, or exploring, or taking a look at bugs or plants - it's a great way for kids to just experience the world around them."
Smith is going to work with the school's communications department to get information out to the public, get knowledge out to parents, and to Grand Traverse about future planning. As of tonight, she plans to take the ideas from this meeting and do some preliminary surveying of what people definitely want. Smith will have some plans/designs drawn up, and the plan is to present them at the next meeting, hopefully held the week of March 5th. Other hopes for this next meeting are to discuss the possibility of a fountain with the maintenence staff, contact Lowe's regarding supplies, and to create a timeline for the project. The school hopes to get the digging and planting started this Spring!
For more information, you can contact Willow Hill Elementary School at (231)-933-8540.