First Ward Creative Arts Academy students will come back to a newly renovated school. The school has transformed with the demolition and removal of several old buildings, creating more open space on the campus.
The biggest transformation is the creation of the Sense and Science Garden. There, students can interact with the butterfly and bird habitat, grow and maintain vegetables, fruits and berry bushes, learn about the school’s new wetland/dry stream, play in the lawn areas and study under the school’s large willow oak tree.
On Friday, Aug. 3, approximately 25 Wells Fargo volunteers worked steadily to prepare the school’s garden with all the tools First Ward will need to make science come alive. On Saturday, Aug. 4, approximately 125 Democratic National Convention volunteers came out to roll out sod, plant trees and add ground cover.
“This garden will offer students a chance to become elementary scientists and engineers,” said Ellen Loflin, the school’s arts integration facilitator.
The school held a kickoff meeting in March 2011 to discuss ideas and plans with students, parents, staff, community members and volunteers. At that time, the school was seeking monetary and other donations. Since then, the school has received a $150,000 grant from Wells Fargo to finance the garden and additional funds and materials from community donations.
Debra Glennon of LSG Landscape Architecture designed the layout for the garden. She said it was a collaborative effort with the First Ward family.
“I took everyone’s good ideas and incorporated them. So now, every element of the garden has a learning aspect to it -- from the type of plants we choose, to the type of vegetables and fruit we will plant,” said Glennon.
Students will also have access to ozone-sensitive plants and learn about how pollution can affect the garden's edibles. The school’s water system will nourish the plants through the canopy structure during rainfall – instead of rain water going into the sewage drains, it will go back into the Earth.
“Our students will learn about making renewable resources, healthy eating habits and selling produce in an urban environment. Some of our teachers have begun planning their curriculum around this garden incorporating math, science, economics and the arts,” said Loflin. “None of it could have been possible without Wells Fargo and all of our volunteers.”
The Sense and Science Garden will be open to CMS schools and to the community.